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The Remonstrantie of Francisco Pelsaert 



Author of India at the Death ofAkbar, and From Akbar to Aurangztb 

P. GEYL, LittD. 

Professor of Dutch History and Institutions in the University of London 




THE Remonstrantie Report, or Relation, of Francisco 
Pelsaert, a name which usually appears in its French form 
as Frangois Pelsart, has been quoted or referred to, by 
various writers on Mogul India from de Laet downwards, 
but, so far as I am aware, the complete document has never 
seen the light. Its contents inevitably precluded publica- 
tion at the time, three centuries ago, when it was submitted 
to the Dutch East India Company, for it disclosed some 
important secrets of their trade. Nearly 40 years later, when 
the commercial situation was very different, M. Th^venot 
translated portions of it, about two-thirds of the whole, in 
his Divers Voyages Curieux (Paris, 1663), and this version, 
reproduced, I believe, in one or two later collections, has 
hitherto been the only source of information regarding 
Pelsaert's observations and opinions. Th^venot, who was 
working for a definitely commercial object, the promotion 
of French trade in the Indies, took only so much of the 
original as served his purpose, or, possibly, he had access 
to an incomplete manuscript, and it so happens that the 
portions omitted by him are of greater interest to students 
of history than those which he translated. 

The translation now offered to the public has been made 
from photographs of the contemporary MS. in the 
Rijksarchief at The Hague. The Remonstrantie is primarily 
a commercial document, but, fortunately for posterity, 
Pelsaert included in it a detailed account of the social and 
administrative environment in which commerce had to 
be conducted. Readers who are not interested in such 
topics as the production of indigo, or the trade in spice, 
may be advised to pass lightly over the opening sections, 
which are mainly, though not exclusively, technical, in 
order to reach the subjects of more general importance which 
are treated further on the administrative system, the 
standard of life, and the social and,religious customs of the 


The translation drafted by me has been revised, sentence 
by sentence, by Professor Geyl, who has had the last word 
on all questions regarding the meaning of the original text, 
but who is not responsible for the introduction, notes, or 
index. For generous assistance in preparing the book I 
have to thank, firstly, Dr. de Hullu, lately in charge of the 
colonial records in the Rijksarchief, who traced the MS. in 
reply to my enquiry on the subject; secondly, Mr. Bijlsma, 
now in charge of the colonial records, who supplied me with 
most of the references on which the introduction is based; 
and, thirdly, Mr. R. Burn, C.S.I., who obtained local 
information on many points dealt with in the notes. I 
have also to thank various friends, whose names are given 
in the notes, for information on particular matters. 

MAY, 1925. 

Table of Contents 







3. INDIGO --------- 10 




AGRA 30 

7. KASHMIR 33 












THE brief but distinguished career of the author of the 
Remonstrantie can be traced in outline in the records of the 
Dutch East India Company. Francisco Pekaert, of Ant- 
werp, sailed for the East in the year 1618 in the position of 
assistant, the lowest grade but one in the Company's com- 
mercial service. In 1620 he was re-engaged in the higher 
rank of junior factor (onderkoopman), and was posted to 
India. He reached Surat in December of that year, travel- 
ling overland from the East coast, and was forthwith sent 
to Agra, where he remained until the end of 1627, rising to 
the position of senior factor. On the expiration of his en- 
gagement he returned to Holland, where he arrived in June, 
1628, but his stay in Europe was short, for he was promptly 
re-employed, and sailed for Java on the Batavia, which 
cleared in October of the same year. In those days the 
command of a fleet or a ship, as distinct from the navigation, 
was ordinarily given to one of the Company's commercial 
servants, and Pelsaert was designated Commander of the 
Batavia, but he was finally appointed President of the fleet 
to which the Batavia belonged. 

The voyage was disastrous. The Batavia was driven too 
far south, and was wrecked on an island off the west coast 
of Australia. Pelsaert undertook an adventurous boat 
journey to Java, reached Batavia safely, and returned on a 
relief-vessel to the scene of the wreck, where a serious 
mutiny had occurred. After dealing sternly with the 
mutineers, he brought the crew to Batavia, which was 
reached in December, 1629. The story of this shipwreck 
has a literature of its own. The journal of the voyage was 
published more than once in Holland, and a condensed 
translation was included in Th^venot's Divers Voyages 
Curieux, whence it passed into general circulation, until 
Francisco Pelsaert, expert indigo-buyer and general mer- 
chant, reappeared as ' the hard-headed Dutch sailor, Captain 


Francis Pelsart/ in tales of adventure published in the 
last century. 1 

In a letter written in December, 1629, Pelsaert mentioned 
that his health had suffered from the fatigues and hardships 
he had experienced. In the following April he was appointed 
second-in-command of an expedition to Jambi in Sumatra; 
he returned to Batavia in June, and died in September. 
In the previous year he had been selected by the Directors 
of the Company as Extraordinary Member of the Council 
of India, but apparently his death occurred before the ap- 
pointment could receive effect, as there is no record of his 
having taken his seat in Council. 

The Remonstrantie, which sums up Pelsaert's seven years' 
experience in Agra, thus constitutes in effect the record of 
his regular work in the East. It was an important time, 
both for the Dutch Company and for the development of 
Indian commerce. After some abortive attempts to gain 
a footing in Western India, which terminated in the year 
1607, the authorities at Batavia eventually found that a 
supply of cotton goods from Gujarat was indispensable 
to the success of their commercial operations, and they made 
a fresh start at Surat in 1616, but for a few years very little 
was accomplished. Then, towards the end of 1620, the 
well-known Pieter van den Broecke arrived in Surat as 
Director of what were called the 'Western Quarters/ 
comprising North and West India, Persia, and Arabia. In 
the course of the next seven years his talents and exertions 
secured for his employers a definite predominance in the 
trade of these regions, largely superseding the English 
merchants who had been first in the field. 8 

1 See Ongeluckige Voyagie van't Schip Batavia (revised edition), 
Amsterdam, 1648; Th&venot, Relation de divers voyages curieux, 
Paris, 1663; Early Voyages to Terra Australis, Hakluyt Society, 
1859; Henry Kingsley, Tales of Old Travel, London, 1869. 

* The story of the Dutch establishment in Western India can be 
read at length in Dr. H. Terpstra's Opkomst der Wester-Kwartiertn 
van de Oost-Indische Compagnie (The Hague, 1918). A brief sum- 
mary is given in Ch. II. of my book, From Ahbar to Aurangzjb 
(London, 1923). 


While the primary object of this extension was to obtain 
a supply of cotton goods from Gujarat, the establishment of 
a factory at Agra was necessitated by two important con- 
siderations. In the first place, no European merchant in 
India could afford to neglect the indigo-trade, and the best 
indigo was grown in the vicinity of Agra. In the second 
place, the Dutch at this time relied mainly on sales of spices 
to finance their purchases, and Agra, or rather the Mogul 
Court, was the most extensive spice-market in India. 
Accordingly, we find that van den Broecke dispatched two 
factors, Heuten and Pelsaert, with some assistants, to Agra 
in January, 1621. The former died two years later; I have 
not traced the actual appointment of a successor, but an 
English letter of the period mentions that van den Broecke 
was thinking of Pelsaert as the most suitable candidate, 1 
and probably he was in charge of the Agra factory from that 
time onwards. Of his actual experience in India, there is 
no formal record, but his descriptions of various places 
appear to afford sufficient indications of its range. He had, 
as has been mentioned above, travelled by land from 
Masulipatam to Surat, and from Surat to Agra; the latter 
journey was probably made by the eastern road, because 
his account of Burhanpur is clearly based on personal ob- 
servation, while he does not describe any place on the 
alternative route by way of Ajmer. He had not travelled 
far to the eastward of Agra, certainly not so far as Allahabad, 
while on the other side he had visited Kashmir, presumably 
to transact some business at Court. This journey would 
take him to Lahore, as he would naturally use the route 
followed by the Emperor: apart from it, there are no in- 
dications of his having been absent from Agra for any con- 
siderable periods, except for seasonal visits to the indigo- 
country in the vicinity of Bayana. 

Regarding the quality of his work the facts speak for 
themselves. He went up to Agra one of a small party of 
pioneers: when he left it, the Dutch had secured the 
leading position in the indigo-market, though there were 
still difficulties to be surmounted on the financial side. 

1 The English Factories in India, 1622-23, p. 281. 


That Pelsaert's services were appreciated by his immediate 
superior is shown by a letter of i6th December, 1627, 
from van den Broecke to the Directors of the Company, 
in which he wrote that he would gladly have retained the 
services of Senior Factor Francisco Pelsaert because of his 
good work, skill, and experience, and added a tribute to 
his knowledge of the language spoken in Agra. His 
selection as an Extraordinary Member of Council, within 
eleven years of his appointment as an assistant, sufficiently 
indicates the opinion formed of him by the Directors in 
Holland, based presumably in part on the Remonstrantie, 
and in part on the verbal reports which he furnished during 
his visit home. There is no doubt, then, that Pelsaert was 
an efficient and successful agent, whose work commended 
itself to his employers. Regarding his life, as distinguished 
from his work, I have found only a single notice. Some 
years after his death, an enquiry was held into irregularities 
at the Dutch factory in Agra, and the report, in dealing 
with the immoral life of the staff, observed incidentally that 
Pelsaert's private life also had been open to similar 
censure. 1 So far as Pelsaert was concerned, this report 
was ex parte, but there are various passages in the Re- 
monstrantie which lend probability to the charge, and I 
think most readers of it will agree that his attitude on such 
matters was in harmony with his environment in Agra. 


The Remonstrantie was written, as the text shows, in 
1626, when Pelsaert's engagement was drawing to an end. 
It is essentially a commercial report, drawn up for the use 
of* the Company, not for a popular audience, and it is im- 
possible to imagine that so much exclusive information 
would have been allowed #o reach the Company's rivals in 
Europe. John de Laet was, however, permitted to use the 
portion dealing with the standard of life, which is closely 
summarised in his De Imperio Magni Mogolis, published in 

1 The report is abstracted in the Dagh Register, under date 22nd 
March, 1636; I have not traced the original document. 


1 63 1. 1 Apart from this, I can trace no reference to the 
Remonstrant until Th6venot published his abbreviated 
translation in 1663, and all the later references to it which 
I have noticed go back to Th6venot, and not to the original. 

The present translation has been made from photographs 
of a manuscript preserved in the Rijksarchief, the only one 
of which I have heard. The manuscript is a contemporary 
copy, and, on the evidence of handwriting, Mr. Bijlsma 
concludes that it was written by a junior factor named 
Salomon Deschamps, who was with Pelsaert on the 
Batavia, and was subsequently sentenced to death for 
complicity in the mutiny. Probably then, the copy was 
made in Holland during the year 1628, while the copyist 
was waiting for his ship to sail. The text is in the usual 
commercial script of the period, and is as a rule very legible. 
Foreign names and words are written in the Italian hand, 
in the use of which the copyist was less expert, and there are 
occasional blunders and corrections which suggest that he 
was not familiar with Indian nomenclature; the great 
majority of the foreign words are, however, perfectly plain 
when once Pelsaert's methods of transliteration have been 
grasped. There can be no question that he had an accurate 
ear, while we know from van den Broecke's letter already 
quoted that he had mastered the language of the country, 
and these facts justify the inference that the comparatively 
few errors and obscurities in Indian words are due to the 
copyist, rather than the writer. 

It is possible that the extant manuscript represents a 
later recension of the Remonstrantie than that which was 
used by Th^venot. The latter's translation bears the date 
'Agra, 15 th February, 1627,' and, if this is correct, it 
suggests that the manuscript used by him had been sent to 
Holland in the spring of that year. Pelsaert remained in 
India nearly a year longer, and, if the extant manuscript 
was copied in Holland in 1628, it may contain additions or 
corrections which were not available to Thvenot. This 
conjecture would explain some of the numerous differences 
between Th^venot's version and the present translation, 

1 Vide Journal, Royal Asiatic Society, January, 1923, p. 85, 



but it rests solely on the date given by Th&renot, who 
cannot be regarded as a very accurate compiler. 

The aim of the translation is to reproduce Pelsaert's 
statements of fact and expressions of opinion as nearly as 
possible in his own language, but in a form which shall be 
intelligible to modern readers. A word-for-word rendering 
would not fulfil the latter condition, because the syntax 
of the original will not bear reproduction. Pelsaert had a 
gift for words, but not for putting words together. His 
ordinary narrative consists of long rambling sentences, 
loosely connected by conjunctions which are not always 
appropriate, but, in passages where he is striving for effect, 
the construction becomes so involved that it is sometimes 
impossible to be certain of the precise meaning. The foot- 
notes indicate the passages where it has been found necessary 
to amend the text or offer a conjectural version, and also 
one or two cases where condensation has been considered 
desirable on other grounds. Apart from these, the departures 
from the original consist in breaking up the longer sentences, 
and eliminating verbal reduplications or redundancies, or in 
occasional insertions, which are marked by square brackets. 
Some of the titles of sections are given in the manuscript; 
where a title is wanting, it has been supplied in brackets. 

As regards the language used in the translation, such 
Indian words as have become acclimatised in English have 
been allowed to remain, with necessary explanations in the 
notes, while modern equivalents have been used for ex- 
pressions which are now obsolete. 'Moslems/ for instance, 
represents 'Moors/ while 'heathens' appear as 'Hindus/ 
Various words which originally meant linen are rendered as 
'cotton goods' or 'calico/ their use in this sense having 
akeady become recognised in Eastern commerce at the 
time when Pelsaert wrote. The Dutch 'coopman' appears 
as 'factor/ the contemporary English term, while 'factory' 
represents 'comptoir/ Indian proper names are trans- 
literated in the popular style in cases where there is no doubt 
as to their identity; in case of doubt, Pelsaert's empirical 
spelling has been retained. In providing footnotes the 
aim has been to give the minimum necessary to understand 
the text, and I have refrained from encumbering the book 


with illustrative or confirmatory quotations from con- 
temporary writers. 

In a few passages in the Remonstrance, Pelsaert refers 
to a history of the Mogul Empire, which he had written, or 
intended to write. No such work is extant, but there are 
some grounds for inferring that it may have been incorporated 
in the 'Fragment of Indian History/ which John de Laet 
printed in De Imperio Magni Mogolis, and which, to quote 
Dr. Vincent Smith, 1 'deserves to be used critically as one 
of the early authorities for the history of Akbar.' De Laet 
mentions that he received the Dutch version of the Fragment 
from van den Broecke. Now in 1627, van den Broecke 
sent home a chronicle of the Moguls from the time of 
Humayun, 2 containing, as he wrote, all that he had been 
able to put together on the subject. It is unlikely that he 
should have compiled two chronicles of the period, and it 
is more reasonable to infer that the Fragment represents 
the chronicle sent home in 1627, an( ^ subsequently com- 
municated to de Laet. Van den Broecke would naturally 
have sought for materials in Agra, lately the Mogul capital, 
and his subordinate, Pelsaert, would have been the natural 
agent to employ; but in any case we have the fact that the 
two men were engaged simultaneously in compiling the 
history of the Mogul Empire, and collaboration seems much 
more probable than independent work in view of the 
intimate relations which subsisted between them. If van 
den Broecke incorporated his subordinate's chronicle, it 
becomes easy to understand why no separate copy of it 
has survived 3 ; and there is no reason for doubting Pelsaert's 
statement that he had studied the history of the country 
in which he was living. 

A few words may be added regarding the orthography 
of Pelsaert's name. He himself wrote his Christian name as 
Francisco, and signed in the abbreviated form Franc , but 

, 1 Akbar the Great Mogul, p. 474 (and edition, Oxford, 19x9). 

1 Letter to the Directors, dated i6th December, 1627, in the 

9 Two copies of the Dutch original of the Fragment are preserved 
in the Rijksarchief, but they are copies only and give no clue to the 


even in some Dutch works, like the Journal of the Baiavia 
already quoted, he appears as Francoys; the form used by 
TWvenot was Francois, which was Englished to Francis 
in due course. The correct form of the surname, as it 
appears in official records, is Pelsaert, but his extant sig- 
natures are in the form Pelsartt, while van den Broecke 
wrote Pelser, and Th^venot gave the name its French form 
as Pelsart. The official style, Francisco Pelsaert, appears 
to be the most suitable in an age which, unlike the seven- 
teenth century, expects uniformity in such matters. 

MAY. 1925. 

Notes on Pelsaert's Transliteration 

THE following notes, which are based on tabulation of words which 
can be identified with certainty, may be of use to students interested 
in some of the names which are given in the text in Pelsaert's 

VOWELS. Pelsaert's 'e' usually represents a short Indian vowel, 
either 'a' or 'i/ while 'ae' represents Indian '2.' The diphthongs 
'oo' and 'ou' may represent either '&"' or 'Q/ 

ASPIRATES. An Indian aspirate is sometimes omitted, e.g. 
'Mameth' for 'Muhammad.' 

DENTALS. The use of these was not systematised, and *t/ 'th,' 
'd/ *dt/ may be interchanged. 

SIBILANTS. Pelsaert wrote 's' and 'z' almost indifferently. 
He evidently noticed some difference between Indian and Dutch 
sibilants, because he usually represented the former by 'ts' and 'tz,' 
or, with an apostrophe, 't's/ 't'z/ 

GUTTURALS. These also were not systematised, and 'c/ 'ch/ 
'g/ 'gh/ 'k/ and 'q/ are largely interchangeable. The Dutch 
pronunciation of these sounds approached nearer to Arabic than 
Indian usage, so that it was natural for Pelsaert to represent 'kh' 
and 'gh' by 'c 1 or 'g. 1 

PALATALS. Pelsaert had no signs available to represent the 
Indian 'j' or 'ch, 1 and his practice varied. Initial 'j' was usually 
represented by 'z/ but sometimes by 'zi': final 'j' usually by 's'; 
in the middle of a word we may find 's/ 'z/ 'di/ or 'dj/ For 
'ch/ we have such forms as 'ten,' 'tschi/ 'ts/ 't'z/ 

Pelsaert's 'ch' may represent a guttural, a sibilant, or, in one 
instance, a palatal. When he transliterated direct into Dutch, 
it is guttural, e.g. 'Chan' stands for 'KhSn'; but when he was 
influenced by Portuguese usage, it represents the Indian or English 
'sh/ so that 'Cha' stands for 'shSh/ He gives the word for current 
money as 'chalani/ just as it would be written to-day, but I have 
found no other instance of the use of 'ch' to represent a palatal 

The remaining letters call for no remarks, but the copyist oc- 
casionally wrote 'v' and *r* so nearly alike that TT " gr *fl / tiTryg is 
possible, and this is true also of his 'f ' and 's' when occurring in the 
middle of a word. 



ON the present condition of the trade of this country, as 
ascertained by me, Francisco Pelsaert, Senior Factor, by 
careful enquiry and close observation in the seven years 
during which I have transacted the business of the United 
East India Company at the factory in Agra and elsewhere, 
under the control of Commander Pieter van den Broeke; 
set out briefly as follows. 


FIRSTLY, of the City of Agra, which is situated in 28 45' 
latitude. The city is exceedingly large, but decayed, open, 
and unwalled. The streets and houses are built without 
any regular plan. There are, indeed, many palaces be- 
longing to great princes and lords, but they are hidden away 
in alleys and corners. This is due to the sudden growth of 
the city, which was a mere village, lying in the jurisdiction 
of Bayana, until King Akbar chose it for his residence in 
the year 1566, and built the magnificent fort on the Jumna, 
which flows past the city, and is a musket-shot broad. The 
luxuriance of the groves all round makes it resemble a royal 
park rather than a city, and everyone acquired and pur- 
chased the plot of land which suited or pleased him best. 
Consequently there are no remarkable market-places, or 
bazaars, as there are in Lahore, Burhanpur, Ahmadabad or 
other cities, but the whole place is closely built over and 
inhabited, Hindus mingled with Moslems, the rich with the 
poor; and if the present King [Jahangir] had fixed his resi- 
dence here as his father did, the city would have become one 
of the wonders of the world, for the gates which Akbar 
built for its security, 1 (Madari darwaza, Chaharsu darwaza, 

1 Modern descriptions of Agra name only the gates in the forti- 
fications which were constructed after Pelsaert's time, and I have 
not found any other list of Akbar's gates, but my friend, Mr. R. 
Burn, has kindly ascertained for me that four of the five name* 
survive in modern street nomenclature. The fifth is written 
Poutou; the last letter may be read either as *n' or as 'u/ and I 
conjecture Puttu. 


Nim darwaza, Puttu [?] darwaza, Nuri darwaza), now stand 
in the middle of the city, and 1 the area of buildings outside 
them is fully three times greater in extent. 

The breadth of the city is by no means so great as the 
length, because everyone has tried to be close to the river 
bank, and consequently the water-front is occupied by the 
costly palaces of all the famous lords, which make it appear 
very gay and magnificent, and extend for a distance of 
6 kos* or 3$ Holland miles. I will record the chief of these 
palaces in order. 

Beginning from the north, 8 there is the palace of Bahadur Khan, 
who was formerly king of the fortress of Asir (5 kos from Burhanpur) . 
Next is the palace of Raja Bhoj [ ?], father of the present Rai Ratan 
[ ?], Governor of Burhanpur 4 (rank 5000 horse). Then come Ibrahim 
Khan (3000 horse); Rustam Kandahari (5000 horse); Raja Kishan 
Das (3000 horse) ; Itiqad Khan, the youngest brother of Asaf Khan 
(5000 horse); Shahzada Khanam, sister of the present king, who 
was married to Muzaffar Khan (formerly King of Gujarat) ; Goulziaer 
Begam, 6 this king's mother; Khwaja Muhammad Thakaar 6 [?] 
(2000 horse); Khwaja Bansi, formerly steward of Sultan Khurram 

1 In the MS. this clause begins with a negative particle which 
makes it unintelligible; the rendering given assumes that the particle 
is a copyist's mistake. 

2 The "Holland mile" was nearly 3 English miles, making the 
kos equal to about i J of the latter. Further on the Holland mile 
is equated to ij kos, making the kos about two English miles. 

8 This list of palaces relates, it will be seen, to the western, or 
right bank, of the river, now occupied largely by modern buildings; 
possibly local antiquaries could still trace some of the sites recorded 
by Pelsaert. To annotate the passage which follows would take 
too much space; students of the period will recognise most of the 
names, and I refer only to those of which the reading is doubtful. 
The names should be taken as those in popular use, not as showing 
the actual occupants; some of them were dead when Pelsaert 
wrote. The number of horse after each name indicates the officer's 
rank in the Mogul system of administration. 

4 Text has Bonos . . . roatan. Thevenot gives Botios . . . 
Rottang. For Bhoj and Ratan (Sarbuland Rai), see Rogers and 
Beveridge, Memoirs of Jahangir, II., 140. 

* This should represent Guljar Begam, but the name of Jahangir's 
mother is not elsewhere recorded (Beni Prasad, History of Jakangir. 
6,); her official title was Maryam-uz-Zamani, which Pelsaert gives 
below as "Maryam Makani." 

9 Thakaar (or perhaps Thahaar) seems to be corrupt, and I 
cannot identify the name. 


(1000 horse); Wazir Khan (5000 hone); Tzoacghpoera, 1 a large 
enclosure, inhabited by the widows of the late King Akbar; the 
palaces of Ehtibar Khan the eunuch, who was Governor* of Agra 
city at his death; Baqar Khan (3000 horse); Mirza Aboussagiet [?] 
(2500 horse) ; 8 the exceedingly handsome and costly palace of Asaf 
Khan (8000 horse) ; Itimad-ud Daula (5000 horse) ; Khwaja Abdul 
Hasan 4 (5000 horse); Rochia Sultan Begam,* the present King's 
sister, but unmarried. 

Then begins the Shahburj, or royal bastion, of the Fort, 
the walls of which are built of red cut stone, 25 ells 6 high, 
and 2 kos in perimeter; in appearance, as well as in cost, 
it surpasses many of the most famous structures in the 
world. It is situated on a moderate elevation with a 
pleasing prospect on all sides, but especially towards the 
river, where it is magnificently adorned with stone lattice 
work and gilded windows, and here the King was accustomed 
to sit when he made his elephants fight. A short distance 
within stands his Ghusalkhana, which is very richly decked 
with alabaster, and has four angles and raised seats, the 
domes over which are plated on the outside with gold, so 
that the look of it is not only royal on a close view, but 
Imperial from a distance. Beyond this is a palace of 
Nurjahan Begam, the present Queen. There is little or no 
room within the Fort, it being occupied by various princely 
edifices and residences, as well as mahals, or palaces for 
ladies. Among these is the palace of Maryam Makani, 
wife of Akbar and mother of Jahangir, as well as three other 
mahals, named respectively Ifwar (Sunday), Mangal (Tues- 
day), and Sanichar (Saturday), in which the King used to 
sleep on the day denoted by the name, and a fifth, the 

1 Possibly Shaikhpura, or some such name as Sokhpura. 

1 The Dutch 'Gouverneur' and English 'Governor' of this 
period represent the Portuguese 'governador.' All three are 
usually applied, not to the Viceroy of a Mogul province, but to his 
subordinate, the Amil of a sarkar or district. 'Governors' in the 
plural is occasionally used loosely to denote high officials hi general. 

* Probably Mirza Abu Said, the g being a copying error for y. 
4 Probably Abul Hasan. 

* Probably Ruqqaiya Sultan Begam, but if so the description 
is wrong, as that lady was married to Akbar. I cannot find that 
any of Akbar's daughters bore any name resembling that in the text. 

1 The Dutch ell was about f yard. 


Bengali Mahal, occupied by ladies of various nations. 
Internally then the Fort is built over like a city with streets 
and shops, and has very little resemblance to a fortress, 
but from the outside anyone would regard it as impregnable. 

After passing the Fort, there is the Nakhas, a great market, 
where in the morning horses, camels, oxen, tents, cotton 
goods, and many other things are sold. Beyond it lie the 
houses of some great lords, such as Mirza Abdulla, son of 
Khan Azam (3000 horse) ; Aga Nur, provost of the King's 
army (3000 horse) ; Jahan Khan (2000 horse) ; Mirza Khurram 
son of Khan Azam (2000 horse); Mahabat Khan (8000 
horse); Khan Alam (5000 horse); Raja Bet [?] Singh 1 
(3000 horse); the late Raja Man Singh (5000 horse); Raja 
Madho Singh (2000 horse). 

On the other side of the river is a city named Sikandra, 2 
well built and populated, but chiefly by banian 8 merchants, 
for through it must pass all the merchandise brought from 
Porop, and Bengalen purop* and the Bhutan mountains, 
namely, cotton goods from Bengal, raw silk from Patna, 
spikenard, borax, verdigris, ginger, fennel, and thousands 
of sorts of drugs, too numerous to detail in this place. 
Here the officers of Nur Jahan Begam, who built their 
sarai there, collect duties on all these goods before they can 
be shipped across the river; and also on innumerable kinds 
of grain, butter, and other provisions, which are produced in 
the Eastern provinces, and imported thence. Without 

1 Th6venot has Bart Singh. The reference may possibly be to 
Bhao Singh, but he held the rank of 5000 horse at his death. 

* Distinguish from Sikandra, the place where Akbar's tomb 
stands, and which lies some distance west of the river. 

8 The text has 'Bayaenen,' i.e. of Bay ana; the copyist's con- 
fusion between 'Bayana' and 'banian' reappears hi other passages, 
and apparently he had heard of Bayana indigo, but not of banians. 

4 'Porop' (i.e. Purab, 'the East') appears with various spellings 
in some European records of the period as the name of a Mogul 
province, but I have not found it so used in any contemporary 
administrative documents, and I suspect its current use was vague 
rather than definite. From a later paragraph it will be seen that 
Pelsaert used the term to include the Mogul provinces of Allahabad, 
Bihar, and Orissa, but not Bengal. ' Bengalen-purop ' is apparently 
corrupt. Thevenot has 'de Bengale, de Purles, et de Boutom,' 
while the text has an erasure after 'purop': the general meaning 
it however clear, 'goods from the East-country.' 


these supplies this country could not be provided with food, 
and would almost die of hunger, so that this is a place of 
great traffic; it is fully two kos long, but not so broad, and 
contains many very handsome gardens, with buildings as 
delightful as the groves, among them those of Sultan Parviz, 
Nurjahan Begam, and the late Itimad-ud Daula, father of 
Asaf Khan and of the Queen. He was buried here, and his 
tomb has already cost fully 350,000 rupees, and will cost 
1,000,000 more before it is finished. There are also two 
gardens belonging to the King, one named Charbagh, 1 the 
other Moti Mahal, and very many more, with handsome 
walls and great gateways, more like forts than gardens, so 
that the city is most pleasantly adorned. Here the great 
lords far surpass ours in magnificence, for their gardens 
serve for their enjoyment while they are alive, and after death 
for their tombs, which during their lifetime they build with 
great magnificence in the middle of the garden. The number 
of these is consequently so great that I shall abandon the 
attempt to describe them in detail, and turn to the trade of 
the country and the city. 

1 This word is not clear in the text, but I read it as 'Tsiarbaegh' 
the first three letters would represent ch. 


COMMERCE flourished here in the time of Akbar, and also 
in the beginning of the present reign, while he [Jahangir] 
still possessed a vigorous intellect, but since this King 
devoted his life to enjoyment, violence has taken the place 
of justice. Whereas each governor ought to protect the 
people under him, they have in fact by subtle means drained 
the people dry, because they know very well that poor 
suppliants cannot get a hearing at the King's Court; and 
consequently the country is impoverished, and the citizens 
have lost heart, for, as the old people say, the city has now 
nothing left of the glory of colour and splendour which 
formerly shone throughout the whole world. The survival 
of a certain amount of commerce is due to the situation of 
the city at the junction of all the roads from distant 
countries. All goods 1 must pass this way, as from Gujarat, 
Tatta (or Sind) ; from Kabul, Kandahar, or Multan, to the 
Deccan; from the Deccan or Burhanpur to those places, 
or to Lahore; and from Bengal and the whole East country; 
there are no practicable alternative routes, and the roads 
carry indescribable quantities of merchandise, especially 
cotton goods. 

The East country (PouropY extends to Jagannath, a 
distance reckoned as 600 kos, and contains many large cities, 
among them the following. 

Allahabad (150 kos), produces no commodities, and has 
very little trade, but is rather a pleasure-resort. King 

1 The text has treckende ende gevende war en, which is unintelligible. 
We should perhaps read gtende for gevende, the two participles 
together signifying 'in course of movement.' 

1 The rest of this section must be read as hearsay. The Dutch 
had not yet begun to trade hi the country east of Agra, and the 
topographical details must represent the statements of Indian 
merchants in Agra, which naturally would not be precise in regard 
to distances or direction, and would increase in vagueness with in- 
creasing distance. 


Akbar built a very fine fort here, because it is the meeting- 
place of the three famous rivers, the Ganges, the Jumna, 
and 1 [blank in MS.]. 

Jaunpur (25 kos further), produces and exports large 
quantities of cotton goods, such as turbans, girdles, white 
chelas*, zelal, t'sey, and coarse carpets. 

Benares (5 kos further), also produces girdles, turbans, 
clothes for Hindu women, t'soekhamber, gangazil (a white 
cloth); also copper pots, dishes, basins, and other articles 
for use in Hindu houses. 

Oudh (3 kos further), furnishes rather coarse cloth in 
pieces of 16 gaz ['yards' of about 32 inches]. 

Lakhawar (15 kos further), produces ambertees, 8 a superior 
grade of white cloth, 14 gaz long and of different widths, 
worth from four to ten rupees the piece. 

Patna (300 kos from Agra), yields annually 1000 to 2000 
maunds of silk, 4 the best of which sells at 16 or 17 mohurs 
per maund (of 50 Ib.) ; taking the mohur at seven rupees, 
the price is no to 120 rupees. Most, or all, of it is con- 
sumed in Gujarat, the rest here in Agra. Formerly the 
English had a factory at Patna for the purchase of raw silk, 
, but, owing to heavy losses, the trade has been discontinued 
for six or seven years, and does not appear likely to be 

1 The missing name is Saraswati, the river which in legend, if 
not in fact, joins the Ganges at Allahabad. 'Pleasure-resort' 
doubtless refers to the pilgrimage. 

8 Much remains to be done before the nomenclature of Indian 
cotton goods is satisfactorily explained. Pelsaert is not of great 
help, because he had not been actively engaged in this market, and 
probably gives only such names as he had picked up from Indian 
merchants. Chela is used of goods from various places: in Jaunpur, 
it was probably a plain calico. Zelcti probably refers to the plain 
calico of Jalalpur (now in Fyzabad district). T'sey is a name I 
have not found elsewhere; it may possibly contain a reference to 
the river Sai. T'soekhamber is probably for 'chaukhamba/ which 
would indicate a four-line pattern; gangazil represents 'Gangajali/ 
or 'Ganges-water/ a fanciful description. 

8 Lakhawar is really South of Patna; for its 'ambertee' calico, 
see The English Factories in India, 1618-21, p. 192, and passim. 

* The English letters from Patna (vide preceding note) show that 
the silk obtained there came from Bengal; the muslin (cassa) came 
from the same region. The gold mohur is described in a later 
paragraph. The maund of 50 Holland pounds is the Akbari maund 
(about 55 Ib. avoirdupois). 


resumed; besides, they are now getting Persian silk at a 
more reasonable price. Patna produces also much muslin 
(cassa), but it is coarse, worth four or five rupees the piece; 
also shields, which sell well in Agra. 

Chabaspur and Sonargaon with the surrounding villages, 1 
and indeed as far as Jagannath, all live by the weaving 
industry, and the produce has the highest reputation and 
quality, especially the fine muslin (cassa and malmal), 
which is also much longer and wider than elsewhere. An 
ordinary cassa is only 21-22 gaz by i J, but these are usually 
24-25 gaz by ij, equivalent to 30 Holland ells long, by 
i j ells broad. 8 

Jagannath (600 kos from here), is where the East country 
(Poorop) ends and Bengal begins. It produces fine muslin 
(cassa and malmal), also hamaium, and tsehen* a superior 
wide cloth suitable for bed-sheets, but little of it is brought 
[here] owing to the high quality and cost. Further on, 
Dacca, Tsettagham, Bipil bander orixa, 4 are all under this 
King's rule; in these places the Portuguese used to have an 
extensive trade, for they have here cities inhabited by their 
own people, but they are now subject to the Moguls, because 
this King has built forts everywhere to keep them in sub- 
jection. Many of their trading vessels used to come annually 
from Malacca and Macao; they brought* spices, [woollen] 
cloth, 5 lead, tin, quicksilver, and vermilion; and for the 
return voyage purchased many kinds of white cotton cloth 

1 The topography becomes very vague here. Chabaspur may re- 
present Shahbazpur in Backergunge district; Sonargaon was dose to 
Dacca; Jagannath is on the Orissa coast. Cassa and malmal are 
the usual names for Bengal muslins. 

2 This equation gives approximately 32 inches for the gaz, showing 
that Akbar's Ilahi gaz is intended, and not the Bengal gaz of 27 inches. 

* Hamaium may be identified with hammam, a well-known 
Bengal calico of superior quality; tsehen, with sahan, also a high- 
grade calico. / 

4 'Tsettagham 1 might represent either Satgaon or Chittagong; 
probably the former is intended, as the latter was outside the Mogul 
Empire. The next expression has obviously puzzled the copyist, 
but I take it to represent Pipli-bandar in Orissa, the port for 
those vessels which were not taken up the Hooghly river. 

5 The text has token % a general word for cloth, but in the East 
at this time it denoted the woollen doth imported from Europe, 
as distinct from the cotton doth of India. 


as well as Bengal muslin, or loaded their frigates with 
butter, rice, gingelly seed, and such goods, making large 
profits. The local muslins are not woven smoothly, because 
the yarn is rough and harsh, and consequently the doth is 
not soft or pleasant to handle. 

All these countries are very fertile, and yield immense 
quantities of grain, such as wheat or rice, sugar, and butter, 
large quantities of which are brought up the river Jumna, 
or carried by oxen overland, to provision this country 
[that is, Agra] and the King's army. In the other 
direction shallow-draught vessels carry from here much 
Sambhar salt (as there is little or no local salt), also opium, 
assafoetida, 'painted' cloth 1 called chits [chintz], red salu 
from Burhanpur, ormesines from Lahore, horses, and large 
quantities of cotton, which is grown largely between Surat 
and Burhanpur, and supports an extensive trade to Agra. 

In Agra, and in Fathpur [Sikri], 12 kos from here, carpets 
are woven in moderate quantities, and can be obtained to 
order, fine or coarse as required, but the quality usually 
made sells at the rate of 2j to 3 rupees the square gaz. 
There is no other noteworthy local produce, since every- 
thing is brought from a distance; but the city contains all 
sorts of artisans in great numbers, who can imitate neatly 
whatever they see, but design nothing by themselves. 
We will therefore describe at some length the cultivation, 
manufacture, and sale of the indigo [of] Koil, Mewat, and 
the most distant villages of Agra and Bayana, which is 
an important article of commerce throughout the whole 
world. 1 

1 'Painted cloth/ i.e. Portuguese pintado, a description applied 
commercially both to the patterned goods of the East Coast, and to 
the chintz or prints of Northern and Western India. 

1 The grammar of this sentence is obscure; it may possibly be 
intended to mean that the indigo-villages in Mewat are more distant 
from Agra and Bayana than those of the Koil (i.e. Aligarh) tract. 

[3. INDIGO.] 

INDIGO is sown in June, when the first rain has fallen, at 
the rate of 14 or 15 Ib. . of seed to the bigha, or square of 
60 Holland ells. If the rains are moderate, the crop grows 
an ell .high in the course of four months, and is usually cut 
at the end of September or early in October, when it is 
fully ripe. 1 The leaves of indigo are round, not unlike the 
rue of our country. The cold weather sometimes sets in so 
suddenly that, if the cutting is postponed too long, the 
indigo loses its colour in the course of manufacture, and 
comes out brown without gloss, for it cannot stand cold. 
It is a good sign of a heavy yield if in the nauti [first crop] 
grass comes up plentifully, though expensive weeding is 
then required to prevent injury to the indigo roots, or delay 
in growth. At harvest the plants are cut a handbreadth 
from the ground, and next year the ziarie [second, or ratoon, 
crop] grows from the stumps. The yield of one bigha is 
usually put into each put, and allowed to steep for 16 or 
17 hours, the put being about 38 ft. in perimeter, and its 
depth the height of an ordinary man; the water is then run 
oft into a round put, constructed at a somewhat lower level, 
32 ft. in circumference and 6 ft. deep. Two or three men 
standing in the put work the indigo back and forward with 
their arms, and owing to the continuous motion the water 
absorbs the dark-blue colour. It is then allowed to stand 

1 In order to follow this description, it is necessary to remember 
that in Pelsaert 's time the indigo crop was commonly ratooned. 
The first year's cutting was called nauti; the cuttings in the second 
year were known as jar hi (or 'ziarie' as Pelsaert wrote); while a 
final cutting called kaUl was occasionally made, instead of leaving 
the last growth for seed. Akbar's bigha was a square of 60 gaz\ 
Pelsaert may have written ells by mistake forgaz, but more probably 
the local bigha at Bayana was smaller than the Imperial standard. 
The word put, by which he designates the receptacles used in the 
manufacture, has such a wide range of meaning hole, pool, pit, 
well that it has seemed best to retain it in the translation, rather 
than risk introducing a wrong idea along with a particular equivalent. 
The description which follows points to receptacles not very different 
from the modern vats. 


again for 16 hours, during which the matter, or substance, 
settles in a bowl-shaped receptacle at the bottom of the 
round put. The water is then run off through an outlet 
at the level of the bottom; the indigo which has sunk down 
is taken out, and laid on cotton cloths until it becomes as 
firm as soap, when it is made into balls. The bottom of the 
put [or, the ground under it] is spread with ashes, 1 so that a 
crust may be formed. The contents of each put is then 
placed in an earthen vessel, which is closed tightly to 
exclude light and wind, so that it may not become too dry, 
for if the indigo is exposed to wind even for an hour, it will 
become drier than if it were left exposed to the sun for the 
same time. The contents of each put (known as dadera) 
is usually from 12 to 20 ser according to the yield of the 
plant, that is to say, when the peasants or other dealers 
sell to us; it dries further by quite 5 ser in the maund in 
the course of handling, and in the bales. This nauti indigo 
is brown in colour and coarse in quality, and can easily 
be recognised by the eye or by touch. 2 It is more useful 
for dyeing woollens and other heavy goods, because it goes 
further than the ziarie. 

The stalks, which are left a handbreadth high in October, 
grow again, and in the beginning of the following August, 
when the crop is fully half an ell high, it is cut in the manner 
already described for the nauti. Sometimes when the rains 
are, or have been, favourable, the ziarie plants are so 
luxuriant that three cuttings are made once in the begin- 
ning of August, once in the beginning of September, and 
again when the nauti is cut, this last crop being called katel. 
When this happens, it is a sure sign that indigo will be cheap. 

The ziarie indigo is superior in quality to the nauti, 
giving a violet infusion. Its quality can be easily judged, 
even without examining the inside of it, for it is much lighter 
in the hand than the nauti. In order to judge indigo with 
certainty, it should be looked at before midday in the 
sunshine; if it is pure, it will glisten and show various 
colours, like a rainbow, so that owing to the variations no 

* The text is ambiguous, and it is not clear from it where Pelsaert 
says the ashes were placed. 
1 Two words are omitted here as unintelligible. 


opinion of the colour can be formed. If it contains sand or 
dirt, the adulterations cannot be overlooked in sunlight. 
Such impurities are common; sometimes they are added 
intentionally to increase the weight, or they may be caused 
by the wind, if the balls, while still fresh and not hardened, 
are left to dry on sandy soil. 

Katel is of extremely bad quality, hard, dull, without 
gloss or colour, almost like charcoal. It is bought from the 
sellers at half price, and beaten into powder with sticks. 
In order to prevent its detection, it is mixed with ziarie 
and nauti and made into bales, which must be carefully 
watched for, both in opening the sacks and in the pots. 
The man who buys in sacks or made-up bales must be on 
the look out for katel or inferior nauti, which, as I have said, 
is powdered and added. The man who buys or receives 
indigo still in pots must personally see that the top and the 
bottom are uniform, for sometimes ziarie is put on top and 
nauti under, and sometimes the top is fully dry and light, 
while the bottom is wet and heavy stuff like earth. This 
may serve as an earnest warning to anyone who has to re- 
ceive indigo. Also, if circumstances permit, one should 
always open indigo in the sun in order to weigh it, for then 
the good or bad quality will become obvious as the balls 
are broken, but this operation must be carried on steadily. 
It is also advantageous, because the indigo dries very 
greatly while being handled and weighed in the sun. At 
the present time, however, many makers do not cut the 
katel, because, while the cost of manufacture is equal for 
all qualities, the yield of katel is barely half that of ziarie 
(that is, 15 to 20 ser for each put), the leaves containing 
little substance; the katel crop is therefore left on the ground 
to yield seed for the nauti of the following year. 

The best comparison I can give to illustrate these three 
kinds of indigo is that the nauti is like a growing lad who has 
still to come to his prime and vigour; the ziarie is like a man 
in his vigorous prime; the katel is like an old, decrepit man, 
who in the course of his journey has had to cross many 
valleys of sadness and many mountains of misery, not only 
changed and wrinkled in the face, but falling gradually 
into helpless senility. I will add that the nauti far sur- 


passes the katel in substance and quality, for while only a 
rupee a maund separates the ziarie from the nauti, they are 
worth fully double the katel. 

The standing indigo is liable to many more accidents or 
misfortunes than other crops or products. If scanty rains 
follow the sowing of the nauti, the seed withers in the ground, 
while excessive rain and lack of sunshine quickly cause the 
plants to rot or to be washed one over another. Sometimes 
after a successful nauti, excessive cold in December, January, 
or February, so injures the roots which should give the 
ziarie, that no crop can be expected; and, if this has not 
happened, but the rains are late, with no fall in June or 
the first half of July, then the roots dry up, and obtain 
no nourishment for the crop. Further, for the last three 
years in succession, locusts have appeared in such numbers 
during June, July and August, as sometimes to obscure 
the sun, and wherever they settled, they cleared the land 
so completely that not a blade was left. They dominated 
the neighbourhood of Bayana to such an extent that they 
ate up entire fields of indigo as far as the eye could reach, 
leaving nothing but the bare stalks, and this has kept the 
price of indigo very high. Again, in September of 1621, 
the rainfall was so excessive and continuous that the whole 
country was flooded; the indigo crop, which was so promising 
that the peasants were afraid there would not be merchants 
enough to buy it, was so thoroughly washed away that 
what survived would not yield 400 bales; and consequently 
many men who were rich and had been concerned in sowing 
indigo all their lives, were reduced to such poverty, that 
even now nothing like so much indigo is sown as formerly. 
The yield of the indigo in the adjacent region known as 
Bayana used to be 4000 bales, but at present it is, at the 
outside, very little more than half that quantity. 

The true Bayana indigo, which is made near that town, 
does not amount to more than about 300 bales, but it is 
much superior to the produce of other neighbouring villages. 
This superiority is due to the brackish water in the wells 
near the town, for the use of sweet water makes the indigo 
hard and coarse. There may be two wells nearly close 
together, one brackish and the other sweet; and in that 


case plant worked with the brackish water will give indigo 
worth at least one rupee per maund more than plant cut 
from the same field, and worked with the sweet water. 

The villages where indigo is made are the following, 
grouped under the five principal places : l 

z. BAY AN A. Ebrahemedebat (one kos), Serco (4 k.), Otschien 
[Ujjain] (6 k.), Patehiouna [? Pachauna] (5 k.), T'sonoua [Sanowa] 
(4 k.), Pinijora (6 k.), Maunana (6 k.), Birampoer (4 k.), Melecqpoer 
[Malikpur] (4 k.), Berettha (5 k.), Azenaulie (4 k.), Batziora [Bachora] 
(4 k.), Pedaurle (4 k.), Gordaha (5 k.), HeUeck (7 k.), Nade Beij 
(10 k.), Pehekertsie (7 k.), Koreka (5 k.), Khondier (5 k.), Rodauwl- 
kera (4 k.), Nimbera (7 k.), Berouwa (5 k.), Ratsiona (7 k.), Indiara 
(4 k.), Tseneorpana (5 k.), Lathehora (4 k.). 

2. GHANOWA, 10 kos west of Bayana. Mahal (2 k.), Roubas 
(2 k.), Tseitsonda [? Sirsaunda] (i k.), Daber (2 k.), Mahalpoer 
(i k.), Gorassa (i k.), Danagham (2 k.), Bockolie [Bakhauli] (i k.), 
Barrawa (ij k.), Ordela (} k.), Ziasewolie [? Jajawali] (ij k.), 
Phetapoer (5 k.). 

3. BASSOUWBR, 10 k. east of Bayana. Weyer (3 k.), Ratsoulpoer 
[Rasulpur] (4 k.), Hissounla (4 k.), Tserres (2 k.), Borolie (ij k.), 
Ziarathara (3 k.), Pantla (2$ k.), T'zetzolie [? Chachauli] (3 k.), 
T'sonoher (6 k.), T'sonkeri (6 k.). 

4. HINDAUN, 10 k. from Bayana. Khera (2 k.), Ziamaelpoer 
[Jamalpur] (2 k.), Kottopoer (2 k.), Paricanepoer (3 k.), Osierpoer 
[Wazirpur] (6 k.), T'serroot (5 k.), Siltoioali (6 k.), Nardoulie (6 k.). 

5. TORA, 1 8 kos from Bayana, with several villages under it, 
yields only about 200 bales annually; the indigo is brown rather 
than violet 8 in colour, and the balls are made much smaller than 

1 The list of villages which follows must be left to students of 
local topography, with the warning that some of the names have 
probably been corrupted in copying. I have indicated in brackets 
some probable equivalents, where Pelsaert's methods of translitera- 
tion might mislead English readers. Of the larger centres, Bayana 
appears on modern maps as Biana, S.W. of Agra, on the railway to 
Kotah, and Hindaun is on the same line, further south. Bassouwer 
may be Based, 20 miles east by south from Biana; Tora must be 
Toda Bhim, 35 miles due west. I have not found any name like 
Ghanowa or Chanowa west of Biana, but, if we read east for west, 
we find Khanua, 18 miles N.E. The distances given in the text 
are presumbably measured from the town under which the village 

9 The text has uyt den violetten. The meaning of these words is 
doubtful, and the rendering 'rather than violet' is a guess. 


Other places also yield large quantities of indigo, such as 
Koil or Gorsa, 1 which lies 30 kos from Agra on the other side 
of the river. Most of its produce is bought up by Armenian, 
Lahore, and Kabul! merchants; it is good indigo, but has 
not such a reputation as that of Bayana, and consequently 
is not bought by us or by the English. A few bales ought 
to be purchased for a trial, so that our employers may be 
able to judge of the difference in the market and in dyeing, 
but it could not be done this year owing to lack of funds; 
if it should prove satisfactory, we should not be so closely 
restricted to the produce of Bayana. Taking one year with 
another, the yield is 1000 bales. 

Mewat is a tract 30 kos from Agra, but, owing to the hills 
and forests, it is mostly in rebellion against the King. 8 
Indigo is made in many of the villages of this tract, and the 
annual yield is 1000 bales or more, but it is inferior and of 
low quality, and usually sandy. The method of manu- 
facture is that of Sarkhej rather than Bayana; the steeping 
of the plant, and the working back and forward to extract 
the dye from the leaves, are done in a single put, whereas 
in Bayana or Gorsa two are used as already explained. 
The price is consequently much lower, 20 rupees for a maund 
in Mewat when Bayana is selling for 30 rupees; very little 
is exported, but it is distributed all over Hindustan to places 
where indigo is not produced. This year, however, we have 
bought some bales for a trial. 

Opinions may differ as to the course to be followed in 
buying indigo, 3 but my own view, based on several years' 
experience, is this. When the yield is plentiful, that is to 

1 Koil is the modern Aligarh. Gorsa is presumably the indigo- 
centre mentioned frequently in English records as Coria or Corja, 
identified by Sir W. Foster (The English Factories in India, 1646-50, 
p. 56), with Khurja (now in Bulandshahr district). Pelsaert would 
have written either Gorsa or Chorsa for Khurja. 

* Cf. below (f n): Jahangir 'is to be regarded as king of the 
plains or the open roads only.' 

8 The discussion which follows deals with the important com* 
mercial question whether foreign buyers should purchase direct 
from small producers! or should rely on the existing organisation of 
the market. There were evidently disputes among the Dutch on 
this topic, and Pelsaert gives his views in some detail. 


say, when the ziarie has suffered no injury, and the rains 
have been timely for the nauti, one or two experienced men 
should be sent in the end of August or the beginning of 
September to Chanowa 1 or the adjoining villages, and should 
buy whatever is really good; but if the crop promises to be 
short, it is better to remain quietly in Ghanowa, 1 and buy 
only from the substantial Hindu or Moslem merchants, 
who live there and have been many years in the trade, and 
who have made advances against indigo some months before- 
hand, binding the debtors to sell to no one else. These 
merchants would rather deal with us at a small profit than 
with other buyers; also, in Ghanowa there is much indigo, 
half of it made in the village. The question may be asked 
whether, if they get the indigo, we could not obtain it there, 
and at the same price. We might do so, on a single occasion, 
or in a single village, but the very next day the price will 
have risen at least a rupee per maund, [and] we shall be 
told by the merchants that their stock is not for sale. From 
repeated personal experience then, my opinion is that at 
such times it is more profitable for the Honourable Company 
that buyers should keep quiet, than that they should run 
about the country from one village to another. Goodness 
knows, the Armenians do quite enough of that, running 
and racing about like hungry folk, whose greedy eyes show 
that they are dissatisfied with the meal provided, who take 
a taste of every dish, [and] make the other guests hurry to 
secure their own portions, but directly they have tasted 
each course, they are satisfied, and can hold no more. In 
the indigo market they behave just like that, making as if 
they would buy up the whole stock, raising prices, losing 
a little themselves, and causing great injury to us and to 
other buyers who have to purchase large quantities. Now 
the Hindus have first of all the advantage of the profit they 
make in buying, and they get it through generous weighing, 
to which they persuade the peasants by wrangling and 
cajolery. There used to be a custom that in weighing 
indigo a bag of doubled cloth containing 152 pice was 
reckoned as 5 ser, giving an excess of quite one ser in the 

1 Chanowa and Ghanowa refer, I think, to the same place; 
Pelsaert interchanges ch and gh. 


maund. 1 Again, when the indigo was moist, they kept from 
20 to 30 balls ready behind each balance, which dried quite 5 
ser in the maund; while by an old custom the maund was 
reckoned at 41 ser, so that altogether there was over- 
weight of 7 ser or more in the maund, which greatly reduced 
the cost of buying; for in those days indigo was so plentiful 
that the peasants were sometimes confounded, and the 
middlemen might have to hold over perhaps 100 bales for 
want of buyers. Since, however, the crop was washed 
away in 1621, the whole of the produce is marketed 
promptly, and there is little or no surplus. They have 
nearly brought it to this that the balls are made smaller 
by one-half, the weighing is done with tens 2 instead of with 
pice or 5-sers, in order to give less excess, and in places* 
only 10 or 15 balls are kept ready, so that there is very 
little overweight, and this can be of little advantage in 
buying. I may add that the loss by drying is incredible, 
for I estimate that a bale which here weighs 4 maunds will 
yield only 3^ maunds in Holland, an experience which has 
probably already surprised our honourable employers. 

It is also necessary to have a buyer in Bayana, where the 
market opens much later than elsewhere, so that it is amply 
sufficient to go there in the beginning of October. The 
reason is that some rich and substantial merchants live in 
the town; the chief of them are named Mirza Sadiq and 
Ghazi Fazil, who sow most of the indigo, and who in some 
seasons have sold to nobody but us. The price is settled 
at his [sic] house, usually a rupee per maund more than the 
rate at Ghanowa or in other villages, because, as has been 
said, the quality is superior; and when the price has been 
fixed, but not before, anyone can sell to anyone he chooses. 
This subservience, or respect, is shown to Mirza Sadiq 
because he is the oldest [merchant] in Bayana. 

1 Akbar's ser weighed 30 dam, and in Agra the word 'pice' 
often meant a dam; thus the buyers got more than 5 ser by the 
weight of two dam plus the bag. 

1 I take 'tens' to mean weights of ten sets in place of bags of pice 
representing 5 sers. 

8 Text has 'in plaets &': I read 'in plaetsen.' The phrase 'are 
kept ready/ which follows, is a guess at the probable meaning, 
rather than a precise equivalent; the original does not make sense. 


I have now written at length of the indigo bearing the 
name of Bayana, which for the last four years has been 
very closely bought up, both by us, by Armenians, and by 
Moguls; the latter classes export it to Ispahan, whence some 
of it goes to Aleppo. In six years the English have not 
bought more than 600 bales, because, owing to bad luck, 
adversity, and mismanagement, their commercial position 
has greatly deteriorated; but if they begin to buy against 
us, as they would like to do if they had the money, indigo 
is likely to rise in price. 


AHMADABAD is the capital of Gujarat, and receives annually 
from here [Agra] large quantities of goods, for example, 
much Patna silk, to be manufactured there into ormesines, 
satins, velvets, and various kinds of curious stuffs, so that 
there is here little trade in Chinese silk manufactures. 
Carpets are also woven there with an intermixture of silk 
and gold thread; while the imports include spikenard, 
tzierila, 1 asafoetida, pipel and numerous such drugs, besides 
Bengal cassas [muslins], mats [malmal], and clothing for 
Hindu women from Bengal and the Eastern provinces, 
pamris* from Kashmir and Lahore, and Bengal hand or 
white sugar. In the other direction are brought hither 
turbans, girdles, orhnis or women's head-coverings, worked 
very cleverly and ingeniously with gold thread; also velvets, 
satin of various kinds, striped, flowered, or plain; coconuts 
from Malabar; European woollen goods; lead, tin, quick- 
silver, vermilion; large quantities of spice, viz. cloves, 
nutmeg, and mace, and sandalwood. These goods are now 
bought from us at Surat, and forwarded in this direction, 
but formerly they were obtained in even greater quantities 
from the Portuguese in Cambay, who had a busy trade 
there, and who brought them to exchange for kannekens, 
tirkandis,* and striped cloths for Mozambique and the 

The [Cambay] trade is however, nearly, or almost wholly 
at an end. Formerly, three caravans, or kafilas, used to 
come every year. 4 (A kafila consists of a large number of 

1 I do not know what is meant by tzierila or pipel. Th6venot 
prints the first as tziorela, and omits the second. 

1 Kashmir shawls: see Hobson-Jobson (s.v. Pambre). They are 
described below in section 7. 

8 Kannekens (or candikens) were small pieces of cheap calico, 
usually dyed blue or black. Tirkandis were similar, but usually 
dyed- red. Both were in demand in most Asiatic markets. 

4 The kafilas, or coasting fleets of small craft (frigates, or foists, 
i.e. fustas), are familiar to all students of the period. ' Annado de 
remas' means the fighting fleet of rowing vessels, employed by the 
Portuguese for escort and police work on the coast. 'India' should 
be read here in the restricted Portuguese sense, denoting merely the 
West Coast. 



fu$ta$> which the merchants of Goa, Cochin, Bassein, 
Daman and all the coasts of India get ready, from the 
beginning of October onwards, to be escorted by the armado 
de remas of the Portuguese or their own kings, owing to 
the danger from the Malabars, who with their small boats 
cause great injury to the Portuguese, for they have been 
bitter enemies for many years past.) Now the trade is so 
much decayed that this year, 1626, only 40 merchants' 
fustas arrived, carrying goods of small value; and this is 
the cause of the decline of Cambay, and indeed of all Gujarat, 
for the Portuguese brought all their goods, both the spices 
and Chinese silk carried in frigates from the South, 1 and the 
European merchandise distributed in all directions from the 
carracks at Goa, and sold them for a small profit, so that the 
[Cambay] merchants gained largely on their purchases, as 
well as on sales of cotton goods. Because of this decay, we 
are cursed not only by the Portuguese, but by the Hindus 
and Moslems, who put the whole blame on us, saying that 
we are the scourge of their prosperity; for, even though the 
Dutch and English business were worth a million rupees 
annually, it could not be compared to the former trade 
which was many times greater, not merely in India, but with 
Arabia and Persia also. 2 

1 'The South' means Malacca, Java, and Sumatra. 

* The extent of the temporary injury to the Gujarat shipping 
industry at this period is too large a topic to be discussed in a note, 
but it may be pointed out that Pelsaert is giving not his own view, 
but the allegations of the shippers ; the rate at which their complaints 
should be discounted is uncertain. This remark applies also to the 
complaints which he reproduces in 8 below. 


OUR trade in this country can be conducted with great 
profit, honour, and reputation to the Honourable Company, 
if our employers will place reliance on the proposals put 
forward as a matter of duty by their servants, whether 
based on credible testimony, intrinsically sound arguments, 
or personal experience. 1 The spice trade in particular can 
be adequately maintained if our employers will believe us, 
because they control the whole produce of the trees, produce 
which is yielded in sufficient quantities nowhere in the world 
except in the Moluccas and Banda. What I want to urge 
is that our employers should send to the Coromandel Coast 
only so much spice as is consumed locally in the Carnatic, 
Golconda, and the vicinity, an amount which I conjecture to 
be less than 200 maunds, or 10,000 [lb.] of cloves, and as 
much nutmeg, with six sockels 2 of mace. This is probably 
an over-estimate rather than too little, for the whole 
[population] of the Carnatic consists of Klings 8 , or Hindus, 

1 The argument of this section requires a little explanation. 
At this time India spent little on European commodities, and most 
of the exports were paid for in gold and silver. Europeans were, 
however, unable to provide the precious metals in sufficient quantities 
to finance the trade they wished to do, and it was essential for them 
to make the most of all possible imports. The principal resource 
of the Dutch at this time (i.e. before the development of their 
lucrative trade with China and Japan), was their monopoly of 
cloves, mace and nutmegs. The chief Indian market for these 
spices lay in the north, and Pelsaert's point was that they should 
make the best of it by sending adequate supplies direct to their own 
factories in that region, instead of selling large quantities on the 
East Coast, which were brought to Agra by Indian merchants. His 
views were apparently accepted by the Directors, for not long after* 
wards orders were issued to regulate supplies very much on the 
lines indicated by him. 

1 Sockel (suckle, etc.) was the name applied to the packages in 
which mace was handled ; they varied greatly in weight at this period. 
The pounds mentioned in this passage, and throughout, are Holland 
pounds, and the numbers given should be raised by 9 per cent., to 
convert them to avoirdupois. 

* For KHng, see Hobson-Jobson, s.v. 



who use little or no spice, while in Golconda, and also in 
Malik Ambar's camp, 1 the people are as poor as they are 
haughty almost like Spaniards in the street, but thrifty 
and mean in their kitchens. The Mogul soldiers on the 
other hand differ little from Europeans, who eat spiced 
food very readily, and consequently their consumption 
is proportionately greater. I know by experience that 
some wealthy banians of Agra maintain agents in Golconda 
with two objects in particular, to buy diamonds and spices, 
which their people in Masulipatam send to us [i.e. to Agra] ; 
and this year they bought 300 maunds (15,000 Ib.) of cloves 
at ii pagodas per maund (of 25 Ib.), and transported them 
to Agra, as well as proportionate quantities of nutmeg, 
mace, tin, and other goods. 2 The result is not merely to 
bring down a good market by 10 to 20 per cent., but to 
stop our sales altogether, because we have no agents in 
Golconda or Burhanpur to warn us of the despatch of such 
quantities of goods, and to make arrangements accordingly. 
We cannot rely on such news as we occasionally get from the 
letters of Hindus or Moslems, because of the risk that they 
might ^deliberately cheat us by such devices, and cause us 
to sell too cheap; a single merchant has much difficulty in 
dealing with such emergencies, and often neglects such 
warnings, to the Honourable Company's serious loss. Now 
it may be the case that our Chiefs at Masulipatam have 
given no warning to the Honourable General 8 that not 
even a quarter of the spices and other goods are consumed 
locally; otherwise His Honour's zeal to secure the utmost 
profit for our foster-mother, the Company, would have 
prevented this loss; or, if this proposal should be doubted 
or criticised, the certain profit might be proved with un- 
certain loss for the Company by experiment within two years 
in the following way. Surat used to be supplied with 

1 That is, the army of Ahmadriagar, which was still holding out 
against the Moguls. 

1 Two different maunds are referred to in this passage, the Akbari 
of 55 Ib., and the East Coast of about 27 Ib., avoirdupois. The 
pagoda, the gold coin of the Coast, may be taken as worth something 
over three rupees at this time. 

9 That is, the Governor-General at Batavia, who controlled the 
supplies of merchandise to Masulipatam and Surat. 


25,000 Ib. of doves annually ; raise that quantity to 50,000 Ib., 
with a proportionate increase of nutmeg and mace; 
reduce the supplies to the Coromandel Coast by the same 
amount; then in the first or second year the books at head* 
quarters will show His Honour whether the profits have 
increased or not* The following calculation will show the 
result according to the best estimate I can make. 

Agra requires 
700 mds. or 35,000 Ib. cloves at Rs. 200 per maund of 50 Ib. 


600 30,000 Ib. nutmeg at Rs. 100 ,, 

30 sockels mace at Rs. 300 ,, 

At these approximate prices, the proceeds should be as 
follows : 
700 mds. cloves at Rs. 200 . . . . . . . . Rs. 140,000 

600 nutmeg at Rs. 100 .. .. . . .. 60,000 

30 sockels mace, estimated as 50 mds., at Rs. 300 . . 15,000 

Rs. 215,000 

From this total must be deducted the heavy loss, or 
dryage, of spices, which is here 8 per cent, for cloves, and 
3 to 4 per cent, for mace and nutmeg, as well as the cost of 
bringing the goods up, which however would not be so much 
felt on so large a capital as it is now. If we were provided 
with such a stock, we should be able to meet whatever 
indents our employers might make on Agra for Holland or 
Batavia, say, 1000 to 1200 bales of Bayana indigo; large 
supplies of saltpetre, borax and lac; and some cotton goods 
(viz. Bengal cassas, chouters, semianos, ambertees, and 
various other white cloths), if required from here 1 ; or else 
the surplus cash could be remitted by exchange on Surat. 
Contrast this with the business we now do, which brings no 
respect or credit to our nation. The heads of our factory are 
utterly discouraged, and the interests of the Honourable 
Company suffer seriously, for we are constantly burdened 

1 Cassas (muslin) and ambertees (calico) have been explained 
in previous notes. 'Semianos' were calico from Samana (now in 
Patiala state). 'Chouter' has rather a wide range of meaning, but, 
as used by the Dutch at this period, it seems to cover the calicoes 
of Oudh and Benares. 


with debts, because our Chief at Surat can spare us no 
money; owing to the fact that everything is so strictly 
employed in despatching the ships for the South [i.e. Java], 
when a caravan of spices is sent up there is not left for Agra 
at the best more than 20,000 Ib. cloves, 15,000 Ib. nutmeg, 
and 15 or 20 sockels of mace. We have to do what we can 
with such supplies, while these cunning and crafty Hindu 
merchants now realise how we stand; they know how much 
we have to sell in the year, and they beat down our prices 
even to the point of extortion, because they can calculate, 
just as well as we can, our need for cash to buy saltpetre, 
cotton goods, and other merchandise, procurable only for 
ready money. They postpone then buying our goods, 
and they can wait longer than we, eking out their supplies 
in the meantime with cloves brought by Hindu and Moslem 
merchants from Golconda, though the quality is much 
inferior to ours, because they have certain methods of wetting 
them while in transit to counteract the great dryage. Then 
when the indigo season opens in September, we must sell, 
however unwillingly, though it is perfectly notorious that, 
even before the goods leave our warehouse, they are re-sold 
sometimes at an advance of 10 or 15 rupees the maund. 
There are only two possible remedies or improvements. 
One is to send up 20,000 rupees in cash in addition to the 
caravan (for bills drawn on the arrival of the ships come too 
late, when the loss has already been incurred by the Com- 
pany) ; the other is, as has been said above, to confine the 
spice trade to this side of India, and leave the Coromandel 
Coast alone. Or perhaps our employers may consider that, 
since their supply of cloves is large, the consumption should 
be encouraged; a reduction of price to 100 or 80 rupees the 
maund might eventually produce a marked increase in 
consumption at Agra, for I have heard old residents and 
brokers say that, when cloves were imported in incredible 
quantities in the time of the Portuguese, even three times 
as much as we now supply, and the price was 60 to 80 rupees 
the maund, 1 the whole quantity was easily consumed, be- 
cause the low price induced everyone to buy, and in the 

1 The price quoted as 'usual' in the Ain-i-Akbari (about 1594 A.D.) 
works out to Rs.6o per maund. 


villages the women and children wore necklaces made of 

Sandalwood is brought to Agra in moderate quantity 
from the Portuguese, who obtain it in Timor, and transport 
it to Malacca, whence it is carried to Goa and Cambay. 
No great trade can be done; 80 maunds, or 4000 lb., may sell 
at not more than 50 rupees the maund. 

Large profits could be made here on the goods which are, 
or might be, brought by our ships from Holland, if the 
English did not bring such large annual supplies; but they 
still hanker after the great profits they made in the times 
when they had a raonopoly of the trade, and consequently 
they fill the markets with large quantities of raw or branched 
coral; some thousand ells of heavy woollen cloth, red, 
yellow, and green (costing 4-4$ shillings the yard in England, 
and sold here for 4-7 rupees the yard); much quicksilver, 
vermilion, and ivory; and also swords and knives. These 
latter goods at first gave large profits on small consignments, 
and they were tempted to send whole cargoes of sabres and 
assorted cutlery, but as many rusted as sold. For the royal 
Camp or Court they bring tapestries, both silken and woollen, 
worked with stories from the Old Testament ; great and fine 
pearls; rubies, and balas-rubies; art-ware inlaid with gold 
and gems; and new inventions or curiosities such as have 
never been seen before, which have a great attraction for 
the present King. In this way the English have secured 
much esteem at Court among the nobles, and sell their goods 
at the highest prices they can ask, under pretence of doing 
a great favour; and at the same time they escape many 
needless expenses in the way of presents, which we must 
constantly incur, though they bring very little in the way of 
thanks or reputation. 

Formerly the English maintained an ambassador at the 
Camp, an arrangement which was very expensive to their 
Company; but it has now been abandoned, because a factor 
who sells their goods at Court can also look after all their 
incidental business, and obtain farmans, or rescripts, from 
the King. Frequently one hears many of the great lords 
asking (though it may be through the suggestions of our 


English friends), 1 if precious stones are known in our 
country, or if there are any skilled craftsmen there, who can 
make toff as [tuhfa, rarities], as there are in England, Venice, 
and other European lands. It is essential therefore, both 
for the profit of the Honourable Company, and to increase 
the reputation of our own nation, that we should make it 
clear that our little country is not merely on a level with 
England, but surpasses the whole world in skill; and in 
order to do this, we should send to Agra every year rarities 
to the value of 100,000 guilders, 8 consisting of large pearls; 
large and fine emeralds (old and new); sapphires, rubies, 
and balas-rubies of rich colour; and gold art-ware of kinds 
which can be described better verbally than in writing, for 
instance, an antique box or casket, with various ingenious 
locks, in which different articles can be secured (for it is 
considered here a sign of skill, that the inside of a thing 
should be different from the outside). I will now specify 
various rarities which have been recommended to me by 
different nobles or great men, and which should be sent 
here by our ships, but the quantity supplied of each should 
be small: 
xo small gold chains, of the most ingenious work. 

20 sabres, costing 10 to 15 guilders each, embellished with some gold- 
work, slightly curved, of which I can show a sample. 

20 handsome musket barrels, wrought with gold and set with agates 
of various colours, in which heads are carved, of the kind brought 
here overland by the Venetians. 

Some sea-horse teeth, marbled on the inside with black stripes, 
much esteemed. 

2 or 3 good battle-pictures, painted by an artist with a pleasing style, 
for the Moslems want to see everything from close by; also one 
or two maps of the entire world; also some decorative pictures 
^ showing comic incidents, or nude figures. 

10 large cases, in which to keep scissors, mirrors, razors, and other 
implements locked up. 

1 'Friends' was the term regularly applied to the English in the 
Dutch commercial correspondence. The word carries a suggestion 
of irony in cases where the two Companies were competing actively 
for a market. 

* The Dutch guilder (of 20 stivers) was accounted for in India 
at this time as 5/6 rupee, the rupee being taken at 24 stivers. 


10 to 20 gilt mirrors, costing 8 to 10 guilders each, bat no large 
ones with ebony frames, 1 such as were sent on the Golden Lion 
by advice. 

x case red woollen cloth, costing 15 to 16 guilders the elL Also 
xo to 20 pieces tapestry, both silken and woollen, from 3$ to 
8 ells long, and 2 J to 4 ells broad, but no sad colours, all bright, 
must be sent. 

5 to xo pieces Cassa,* of bright colours, green, red, or variegated. 
No cloth of gold should be sent, as it is supplied from Persia, of 

good quality and much cheaper. 

Many of the great men express surprise that we do not 
have the gold and silver (coined and uncoined), which we 
import in large quantities, manufactured by us into articles 
which are here in common use. Provided the workmanship 
is good, half the silver might be paid for manufacture, which 
would give ample payment for Dutch work; or in any case 
manufactured goods would yield quite as much profit as 
reals or Holland dollars, and could meet the taste of the 
nobles everywhere without loss to us. It would be well, 
therefore, for the first trial, to manufacture such goods as 
the following to the value of 8000 to 10,000 reals-of -eight, 1 
and to the same amount in gold: 
Feet for katels* or bedsteads, hollow, and as light as possible, but 

artistically wrought. 
Aftabas, or ewers used by Moslems for \ 

washing the hands. If necessary, the style 

Betel boxes. I or fashion of these 

Fan handles. I could be shown or 

Handles for fly-switches. I explained. 

Dishes and cups with covers. j 

Most of these goods could be sold in the Palace or the 
Camp, to the good profit, honour, and reputation of the 
Company, by an agent familiar with the language and 
customs of the country, who could at the same time prevent 

1 The objection was apparently to the frames, black being an 
unpopular colour at the Mogul Court. The meaning of ' by advice' 
is obscure. 

8 Cassa usually means Bengal muslin, as noted above, but here it 
must denote some textile made in Europe. Thfrvenot has velvet 
and satin, but his list differs considerably from the text. Probably 
the word should be carsien or 'kerseys,' a woollen fabric which sold 
well in India about this period. 

1 The real was worth about two rupees in India. 

4 For hotel, see Hobson-Jobson, s.v. 'Cot/ 


all the occasional difficulties which arise, wherever trade is 
attempted, from the improper procedure due to the in- 
satiable greed of the Governors; and this could be done 
without incurring expenditure. At present these matters 
often cannot be prevented in spite of great trouble and cost. 

The annual offtake of our commodities in Agra may be 

estimated as follows: 

Quicksilver: 50 maunds or 2500 Ib. ; price is conjectural, but Rs. 160- 
180 the maund may be looked for. 

Vermilion: 50 maunds, at Rs. 180-200 the maund. 

Tin: 30 maunds, at Rs. 38 or 40 the maund. 

Ivory: 50 maunds; but it must not be split, otherwise it makes a 
difference of more than half the price. The tusks must there- 
fore be sawed at Surat in this way, to wit, into pieces a hand 
broad, and then coated or smeared with wax, so as not to split 
with the heat. Whole pieces sell at Rs. 70-80 the maund, and 
split pieces at Rs. 20-30. Arm-rings are made from the ivory 
for Hindu women, and are worn as ornaments in Multan and 
the Eastern provinces. 

Red woollen cloth. Little or none of such as is now sent, at 8 to 
10 guilders the ell; or unless it were the kind brought by the 
English, which must be sold in competition with them. 

Our honourable employers will be surprised that no larger 
quantities of goods can be sold in so extensive a country 
as this, but I will explain that satisfactory profits could be 
made but for the amount of the English and Portuguese 
imports. For example, I observed that in 1626, when the 
Portuguese galleons chased the English ships from Surat, 
and they had to winter in the Mayottes, 1 quicksilver rose to 
Rs. 250 the maund, vermilion to Rs. 320, and coral and 
other goods proportionately. Small consignments sold at 
a profit are therefore better than large supplies sold at a 
loss, or held over for years; for the local merchants are 
naturally timorous, and dare not take any great risks, but 
think only of a small but certain profit. To some extent 
this is due to want of enterprise, and besides, if goods lie 
unsold, the interest of 10 to 12 per cent, annually consumes 
the merchants like a canker. In Agra the men who are 
richest live mainly by money-lending, a practice which is 
not discreditable to Hindus, but only to Moslems (though 

1 For this affair, see The English Factories in India, 1624-29, 
pp. ariv.-xvi. 


indeed they do it commonly enough); and that certain 
profit comes before the gain of the enterprising merchant. 

All weights and measures in use here are twofold, Akbari 
and Jahangiri, for the present King has raised weights, 
measures, and coins 20 per cent, above his father's standards. 
Thus an Akbari ser weighs 30 pice, or i J lb., and the Jahangiri 
ser is 36 pice, or i| lb.; the former maund is 50, and the 
latter, 60 lb. 1 The gaz [Indian yard] varies in the same way ; 
100 Akbari gaz make 120 of our ells, the other in proportion. 
The coins used are rupees, but there are different kinds, 
viz. khazana [treasury] or Akbar's old coins, and chalani 
[current], which are the rupees struck during Jahangir's 
reign in Agra, Lahore, Patna, Kandahar, or Gujarat; the 
shroffs [money-dealers] value the chalani rupee at from I to 
2 per cent, above the khazana, though the coins are identical 
in weight. Then there are the siwai, which are equivalent 
to ij rupees; and the Jahangiri, which weigh 20 per cent, 
more than the khazana. All bargains are done in terms of 
the same series of units, either Akbari or Jahangiri. No 
goods are sold by measure as we sell grain, etc., but every- 
thing is weighed by the maund. 

There are gold coins, but only of one series, named 
mohur. The double coin weighs a tola, or 12 mashas, and 
is equivalent to 14 rupees, the half-coin in proportion. The 
inscriptions are similar to those of the rupees, except those 
which have been coined by the Queen; her coins, both 
rupees and mohurs, bear the twelve signs of the Zodiac, 
one sign on each coin. Very little trade, however, is done 
with these gold coins, seeing that most of them must come 
from the King's treasures, and further the great men hoard 
them, and search for them for their khazana [treasuries]. 
Copper coins also are in use. They are called pice, and at 
present 58 or more go to the rupee. 2 For still smaller sums 
for the use of the poor there are cowries, ^or white sea-shells, 
which pass at 80 to the pice. 

1 Here as elsewhere the pounds are Holland weight, not avoirdupois. 

1 Pelsaert, like other writers of the period, uses the word pice to 
denote both the dam and the half -dam (or adhela). In Akbar's 
tune about 40 dam, or 80 adhela, went to the rupee, but the price 
of copper rose sharply early in the lyth century, and at this time a 
rupee exchanged for 30 dam or less; in this passage the reference 
must be to the adhela. 


LAHORE is situated in 32 latitude, 300 kos north-west of 
Agra. . It was a great centre of trade in the days before the 
English came to Agra, 1 and the Armenian and Aleppo 
merchants did a large and very profitable business. In 
those days the chief market for indigo was Lahore rather 
than Agra, because it was more convenient for the merchants, 
who travelled in caravans at fixed seasons by way of 
Kandahar and Ispahan to Aleppo; and this is why the 
indigo which reached Europe from Aleppo or the Levant 
was known as Lauri, or more properly Lahori. A brisk 
business is still done in the fine cotton goods of Masulipatam, 
or Golconda and Mongapatnam,* but nothing like what was 
formerly transacted. The trade of Lahore may in fact 
be called dead, for exports are limited to the requirements 
of Persia and Turkey, because the profits cannot stand the 
great costs of overland transit compared to those of our sea- 
carriage. Lahore thus lost practically all its trade, and the 
substantial Hindus, or Khattris, whose reputation still 
survives, lived on what was left of their old profits. For 
some years however the present King has spent five or six 
of the cool months of each year in Lahore (the rest, or hot 
weather, being spent in Kashmir or KabiU), and the city 
has now recovered, but more in splendour, royal buildings, 
palaces, and gardens, than in point of wealth. The river 
Ravi flows past the city. It rises in the mountains of 
Kashmir, and flows by Multan and on to Tatta and Bakkar, 

1 Much of this section must be read as hearsay. Pelsaert probably 
passed through Lahore on his way to Kashmir, but it is practically 
certain that he never^was in Multan or Sind. 

1 Text has 'in Mongapatnam,' but the sense requires 'en' (i.e. 
and). The form of the name shows that this place was in Southern 
India, and it is linked with Golconda in a later passage as a source 
of turban-cloth. Presumably the reference is to Mangapatnam, 
now a village in the Cuddapah district; superior turbans are still 
made in the neighbourhood. (Cuddapah District Gazetteer, s.v. 
Jammalamadugu; I am indebted to Sir W. Foster for the identifica- 
tion and reference). 



carrying a large trade in shallow-draught vessels. Agra 
imports from Lahore ormesines and carpets, which are 
woven there, and also many goods from more distant places, 
such as fruit from Kabul, asafoetida from Kandahar, and 
other commodities obtained in Multan. Agra exports to 
Lahore most of the spices which we sell here (for the local 
consumption is very small when the King is not here, or 
there is no Camp) ; also all kinds of white cotton goods, both 
Bengals and Golcondas; ivory (most of which is wrought 
in the neighbourhood of Multan); quicksilver, vermilion, 
coral; turbans, girdles, and all sorts of silk goods from 
Ahmadabad, where they are woven; silk from Patna; lac, 
pepper, and drugs too numerous to be named. 

MULTAN is the capital of the province of that name, and 
lies 140 kos north [really, south-west] of Lahore. 1 The 
province is exceedingly productive, and commands the 
route to Persia, which runs by way of Kandahar. The 
Persian trade is extensive, because the city is conveniently 
served by three great rivers, the Ravi (which serves Bakkar 
in Sind, and also Lahore), the Behat [Jhelum] and the 
Sind [Indus], The latter also rise in the mountains of 
Kashmir, so that near Multan the water flows with an 
astonishing current, but all the same they are largely used 
by shallow-draught vessels. Very much sugar is produced, 
which is carried by water to Tatta in large quantities, and 
also to Lahore; gallnuts and opium are also produced; 
sulphur is obtained in large quantities, as well as the best 
camels in India; the finest and most famous bows are made 
here, also large quantities of white cotton goods and napkins, 
which are exported to Kandahar. All these goods come by 
way of Lahore to Agra, and are thence distributed in all 
directions. From Agra or Lahore, Multan receives large 
quantities of cotton, coarse yarn, Bengal cotton goods, 
turbans, prints, red salu from Burhanpur, and small 
quantities of spices. 

TATTA, the capital of Sind, is 80 kos distant from the sea. 
The port is named Lahari Bandar, where all large vessels 

1 Presumably Pelsaert was thinking of Multan as lying beyond 
Lahore, which is to the north of Agra. The next paragraph shows 
that he knew it to lie between Lahore and Tatta. 


anchor; the goods are brought up in boats, and, owing to 
the strength of the current, they usually take from 8 to zo 
days on the way. This country was conquered by the 
Khan Khanan under Akbar in the year [blank in MS.]. 
The city lies southwards from Agra, 400 kos distant by way 
of Jaisalmer, and 700 kos from Lahore by way of Multaru 
It prospered greatly owing to the trade of the Portuguese, 
while Ormuz remained in their hands. There are large 
supplies of white cotton goods, which in my opinion are 
far superior to baftas [Gujarat calico] at the same price 1 ; 
also much striped cloth, taffetas of yarn and silk, and other 
cotton goods. Ornamental desks, draught-boards, writing- 
cases, and similar goods are manufactured locally in large 
quantities; they are very prettily inlaid with ivory and 
ebony, and used to be exported in large quantities to Goa 
and the coast-towns. This business has however now 
come to an end, 2 and since the trade of Ormuz was lost, 
merchants from Ispahan have to come to Tatta, though 
with great difficulty and expense. They bring silk for 
sale, but clandestinely, because export from Persia is pro- 
hibited; they also import large quantities offouwne* (called 
by the Moslems massiedt), which grows there, and is used 
for dyeing red, like chay-root on the Coromandel Coast; 
also almonds, raisins, prunes, and other dried fruit. In 
addition, they bring large sums in gold ducats, because 
the heavy cost of transit reduces the profit to be made on 
merchandise. In return they take white cotton goods, 
yarn and silk taffacils* turbans, girdles, loin-cloths, Bengal 
cloth, Lahore indigo, 'painted' cloth, and much sugar, 
both candy and powder, which is brought by water from 
Lahore and Multan. 

1 Not long after this was written, the English began to export 
Sind calico to Europe. 

1 The Portuguese had acquired a practical monopoly of the sea- 
trade of Sind, which was directed mainly to the Persian Gulf. After 
the fall of Ormuz, this trade naturally declined, and must have been 
nearly at its lowest when Pelsaert wrote. The English restored the 
trade partially in the next decade. 

9 Presumably intended for the Arabic word fuwwat, a synonym 
for run&s, or Indian madder, which was an alternative to chay-root. 
For the latter, see Hobson-Jobson (s.v, Choya). 

* Taffacils (tapseels, etc.) were striped goods, woven in both silk 
and cotton. 

[7. KASHMIR.] 

KASHMIR is situated in 35 N. latitude. On the East the 
country extends to Great and Little ' Tibet, a ten days' 
journey. 1 On the South it is bounded by Cashaer and 
Lamoe, as far as the border of Kabul, being 30 days' march. 
On the West, it is bounded by territories belonging to this 
King [Jahangir], such as Poncie and Peshawar, 13 marches, 
but Bangissa, 10 marches further, belongs to Raja Golatia, 
who is continually at war with Hindustan. On the North 
it adjoins Pampoer, Bessiebrara, Amiets and Watibra, 
20 days' journey. The most delightful pleasure-resort is 
Wirnagie, where the King has the best hunting-grounds in 
the whole of India. Many villages and handsome towns 
exist in all parts of the country, but they are too numerous 
to be recorded here, and we turn to the famous city of 
Kashmir, which extends over a strongly defended plain, 
circular, and ringed with terrible mountains, some of them 
lying at a distance of 15 or even 10 kos. One mountain, 
however, known to Moslems as Solomon's Throne, lies only 
one kos north of the city; they regard it as miraculous, and 
say that they have very old writings and proofs showing 
that Solomon himself built this throne. The city itself is 
planted with very pleasant fruit-bearing and other trees, 
while two great rivers flow past it. The larger of these 
comes from Wirnagie, Achiauwel, and Matiaro; the other 
rises from the ground like a well or spring, three kos from 
the city, having its source at Saluara from an inland lake; 
but the water of neither of them appears to be sweet or 
healthy, and the inhabitants boil it before they drink it, 
while the King and the chief nobles have their water carried 
3 or 4 kos from Swindesseway, where the water is clear 
and snow-white. King Jahangir began the construction of 

1 Most of the topographical details given in this section most be 
left to students familiar with the historical geography of the Hima- 
layan area. Wirnagie represents Vir-nag, (Memoirs of Jakangir, 
II., 142) . The ' city of Kashmir ' is still the popular name of Srinagar. 
Solomon's Throne is the Takht-i-Sulaiman. 



a wooden aqueduct, to bring good water from a distance of 
10 or 12 kos into the fort, but, realising that it could be 
easily poisoned by enemies or malcontents, he abandoned 
it after having spent fully 10,000 rupees. In Kashmir 
foreigners usually suffer from the flux, and many die of it; 
the cause must be the water, and also the quantity of fruit 
which is available. 

On the East side of the city lies a great stronghold, with 
a wall of grey stone, fully 9 or 10 feet thick, which joins it 
to a high, rocky hill, with a large palace on the summit, 
and another somewhat lower, or half way up, towards the 
North, as well as two or three residences with separate 
approaches, but the principal ones lie on the South towards 
the East. In the centre of this fort is the King's palace, 
which is noteworthy rather for its elevation and extent than 
its magnificence. The Queen lives next the King, on the 
North side; next to her, her brother Asaf Khan, and, a 
little further on, Mukarrib Khan. On the other, or southern, 
side, lives Sultan Shahriyar, the King's youngest son, 
who is married to the Queen's daughter by her first husband. 
On the south-west live Khwaja Abdul [? Abul] Hasan, 
and also other great nobles, all of whom reside within the 
fortress and round the hill, in a circle of about a kos in 
circumference. The city is very extensive, and contains 
many mosques, as their churches are called. The houses 
are built of pine-wood, the interstices being filled with clay, 
and their style is by no means contemptible; they look 
elegant, and fit for citizens rather than peasants, and they 
are ventilated with handsome and artistic open-work, 
instead of windows or glass. They have flat roofs, entirely 
covered with earth, on which the inhabitants often grow 
ontons, or which are covered with grass, so that during 
the rains the green roofs and groves make the city most 
beautiful on a distant view. 

The inhabitants of the country and the city are for the 
most part poor, but they are physically strong, especially 
the men, who can carry quite twice the load of a Hindustani; 
this is remarkable in view of the fact that men and women 
get so little food. Their children are very handsome and 
fair, while they are young and small, but when they grow 


up, they become yellow and ugly, owing to their mode of 
life, which is that of beasts rather than men. The women 
are small in build, filthy, lousy and not handsome. They 
wear a coarse gray woollen garment, open from the neck 
to the waist. On the forehead they have a sort of red band, 
and above it an ugly, black, dirty clout, which falls from the 
head over the shoulders to the legs; cotton cloth is very 
dear, and their inborn poverty prevents them from possessing 
a change of raiment. 

They are fanatical Moslems. It was their twelfth king 
who observed this creed, 1 before King Akbar's General, 
Raja Bhagwan Das, overcame the country by craft and 
subtlety, the lofty mountains and difficult roads rendering 
forcible conquest impossible. 

Kashmir produces many kinds of fruit, such as apples, 
pears, walnuts, etc., but the flavour is inferior to those of 
Persia or Kabul. In December, January, and February 
the cold is very great, with constant rain and snow; the 
mountains remain white with snow, except in places where 
the sun shines in the warm weather, causing heavy floods 
in the rivers. 

The reason of the King's special preference for this country 
is that, when the heat in India increases, his body burns 
like a furnace, owing to his consumption of excessively 
strong drink and opium, excesses which were still greater 
in his youth. He usually leaves Lahore in March or April, 
and reaches Kashmir in May. The journey is very difficult 
and dangerous, besides being expensive, for pack-animals 
cannot cross the mountains, and practically everything 
must be carried on men's heads. All the nobles curse the 
place, for it makes the rich poor, and the poor cannot fill 
their stomachs there, because everything is excessively 
dear; but apparently the King prefers his own comfort or 
pleasure to the welfare of his people. 

Kashmir yields nothing for export to Agra except saffron, 
of which there are two kinds. That which grows near the 
city sells in Agra at 20 to 24 rupees the ser; the other kind, 
which grows at Casstuwary, 10 kos distant, is the best, and 

1 This sentence is obscure. The meaning seems to be that the 
King who submitted to Akbar was the twelfth Moslem king. 


usually fetches 28 to 32 rupees the ser (of 30 pice weight). 
Many pamris are also woven; these are cloths 3 ells long and 
2 broad, woven from the wool (it is more like hair), which 
grows on the hindquarters of the sheep, very fine, and as 
soft as silk. They are worn here [i.e. in Agra] as wraps in 
the winter because of the cold, and look very well and fine, 
having a surface like boratos. 1 Walnuts, which are plentiful, 
are also exported to Agra. 

The goods sent from Agra to Kashmir are coarse, un- 
bleached, cotton-cloth, yarn for local consumption, and 
also pepper and opium. Nutmeg, cloves and mace are too 
dear, and their use is unknown; but all of them are, as 
might be expected, brought there when the King is in 

1 'Borato' was the name of a thin woollen cloth fashionable in 
Europe at this period. The word rendered 'surface' is keper, 
which appears to indicate a twill or something of the kind. 


BURHANPUR is situated 300 kos south of Agra, and 150 kos 
north 1 of Surat. It is a very large, open city, and was 
formerly unfortified, but recently, when the Deccan* forces 
besieged it in order to assist Sultan Khurram [Shahjahan], 
Raja Ratan defended it with a wall of earth and fortified 
posts at various points. This year, 1626, when Khan 
Jahan, the Governor of the country, led a force of 40,000 
horse against the Deccan, he ordered Lashkar Khan, who 
governed during his absence, to encircle the whole city with 
a wall, and owing to the number of people this has been 
accomplished very rapidly in a short time. Its length is 
12 kos or more, but it is not a circle 8 ; there are many bastions, 
and all is correct and exact, but constructed only of earth. 
The river Tapti, which flows past Surat, and passes this 
city also, is so full of rocks and stones as to be unfit for 
navigation; otherwise it would be very convenient for the 
trade of the city, which is still extensive, but was formerly 
much greater. The offtake of goods was incredible at the 
time when the city was governed by Khan Khanan or by 
Sultan Khurram, for Khurram was an active and powerful 
prince; he maintained a large standing army here against 
the Deccan, as it lies on the frontier; and he was always 
surrounded by an extensive Court. He was a patron of all 
craftsmen, to whom he paid such high wages that he attracted 
all the splendour of his father's Court, for he was as greedy 
for novelties, costly jewels, and other rarities as Jahangir 
himself, and he paid more liberally, being sensible, and 

1 'North' should be 'East.' Burhanpur was a stage on one of 
the two routes leading from Surat to the north, and Pelsaert may 
have located it from this point of view. 

* Text has 'de Ganders': I read 'de Decanders.' The copyist 
has made a similar slip a little further on, 'de Can' standing for 
'de Decan.' 

* So in the text, but the negative may be a copyist's error; if so, 
the meaning would be simply that the wall was 12 kos or more in 



refusing to be guided, like his father, by his avaricious 
subordinates. He rebelled, however, because he thought 
his father had lived too long, and, besides, he wished to 
displace his eldest brother, Sultan Parwiz; but the rebellion 
failed, as can be read at length in the account I have written 
of the history of the country, 1 and after his flight some of 
his territories, including Burhanpur, were assigned to 
Parwiz. The latter's period of rule was very dull, for he 
was a man of poor spirit, aspiring to no state or display, 
and he was satisfied if he could get drunk every day, pre- 
ferring to sleep by day and drink by night. Consequently 
he pays no attention to the administration of the country, 
his troops are left unpaid, their numbers diminished, and 
their pay reduced, while the farms of the revenue of the 
villages and neighbouring country are increased. It is 
this which impoverishes the country and enriches the 

The English used to have a regular factory at Burhanpur 
for the sale of various goods, such as heavy woollen cloth, 
lead, tin, quicksilver, vermilion, satins, and velvets, for the 
Army. All the money obtained by these sales was remitted 
by exchange on Agra or Surat, because there is nothing to 
be had locally which is suitable for their trade, or for ours. 
In case some improvement in administration should follow 
the death of the present King, it would be necessary to have 
a factory there for the sale of such goods, or others; though 
the English have agents there at present, it is only in order 
to dispose of large quantities of old stock, either profitably 
or at a loss. 

SURAT (latitude 21 J degrees), is, owing to its situation, 
the chief seaport belonging to the King, though the city is 
7 kos, or about 4 [Holland] miles, up the river, and all 
goods, both imports and exports, must be shipped and 
landed by boat. Three k<?s, or two miles, further east- 
wards, the English have found a convenient anchorage 
named Swally, where there is a sandbank, which is exposed 
at low water, and gives shelter at high tide, so that it is a 
desirable place for loading and unloading goods. From 

1 For this account, see the Introduction. 


Swally goods can be brought by land on carts; this is much 
more expensive than sending them by boat, but the latter 
course is exceedingly dangerous, because the Malabar 
pirates can keep their small craft lying off the river's mouth 
without being observed, and capture whatever there is. 

The city is fairly well built, and is about two [Holland] 
miles in circumference. It has no walls, but ditches have 
been dug round it, provided with four gates on the land 
side. On the water front is a castle built of white coral 
rock, 1 small in circuit, but well provided with guns and 
equipment; it is considered locally to be practically im- 
pregnable, but it could not withstand a determined siege 
for long. In order to strengthen it further, or to increase 
the artillery, they have constructed a platform on an inner 
high wall running round the fort, and covered it with beams 
and planks; here, on the upper tier, are placed more than 
30 guns, but as a matter of fact this arrangement would 
make them like a mouse in a trap, for if the upper works 
were shot away, or breached, the whole platform must 
collapse, and put the lower tier of guns also out of action. 

Formerly, when the coast was still unknown to the 
English, a very extensive trade was carried on in Surat by 
the Moslems, but it has now fallen off greatly, and indeed 
is nothing compared to what it was, because all the chief 
seaports, which were recently so flourishing, have collapsed, 
some through war, others owing to other causes; Ormuz, 
Mocha, Aden, Dabhol, and also the whole Goa coast, are 
idle, and do not know where to voyage; each is almost 
smothered in its own produce, and there are no signs that 
any other place, country, or seaport, has benefited, though 
usually one country profits by the decay of another. All 
merchants, from whatever country they come, complain 
most bitterly. Portuguese, Moslems and Hindus all concur 

1 The word coroel-steen, literally coral-stone, seems to have 
acquired a rather wider meaning in the East, for I have found it 
applied to building-stone in localities where the occurrence of a 
coral-formation is most unlikely. Mr. A. M. Macmillan, Collector 
of Surat, has kindly supplied me with information regarding the 
stone actually used in the Castle at Surat; Dr. H. H. Mann describes 
it as a highly fossilif erous limestone, yellow in colour, of a kind which 
is found in the Surat district. 


in putting the blame for this state of things entirely on the 
English and on us, saying that we are the scourges of the 
sea and of their prosperity. Often enough, if we notice any 
shortcoming, and blame them, or threaten them, for it, the 
leading merchants tell us they heartily wish we had never 
come to their country. They point to the number of ships 
that used to sail from Surat alone every year four or five 
of the King's great ships, each of 400 or 500 last 1 (two for 
Achin, two for Ormuz, two for Bantam, Macassar and those 
parts), besides smaller ships owned by individual merchants, 
coining and going in large numbers. Nowadays the total 
is very small. Two of the King's ships usually clear in 
February, and sail from the river in March, carrying goods 
on freight for anyone who offers; they reach Mocha at 
the end of April, where their goods may have to lie over 
for a year for want of buyers, but the ships start on their 
return voyage in August, unless one is destined for Suez or 
Mecca [Jidda], in which case it winters at Mocha, and the 
goods are sold at leisure. The ships bring back chiefly 
ducats, and small quantities of merchandise. A small 
vessel, or tauri, sails every year in September for Achin, 
carrying black baftas, candekins, tricandis, chelas* and other 
cotton goods for that coast, and returns about March with 
tin, pepper, and a certain amount of other spices brought 
there by the people of Macassar. 8 There remains no other 
regular voyage worth mentioning. 

For the last four or five years, since the Portugese have 
lost Ormuz, the trade of the Surat merchants with Persia 
has been carried as freight by the English ships, or by 
ours; they consign chiefly cotton goods, turbans, and 
girdles from Golconda and Mangapatnam, which are sent 

1 A last represented two tons (measurement), or about 120 cubic 
feet at this period. 

1 Baftas were Gujarat calico: candekins and tricandis were short 
dyed pieces of calico; the Gujarat chelas were small, coarse pieces 
of calico, woven in coloured checks, and frequently supplied to 

9 Macassar, in Celebes, was the centre of what the Dutch regarded 
as a smuggling-trade in spices. The local boats used to visit the 
Spice Islands, and buy doves, mace, or nutmegs, when they could 
elude the Dutch, who claimed the monopoly of these products. 


to Ispahan. Practically none of the goods which we carry 
on freight compete with what we ourselves send to Persia, 
so that this traffic is a great benefit to them without causing 
any injury to us, and the freight covers the expenses of the 
Company's ships. Some merchants who own tauris, or 
small vessels, send them along with our ships, laden with 
cotton, rice, or other goods of low grade, but no one dares 
to sail from any port to Ormuz unaccompanied, because 
(when our ships have left) the Portuguese frigates keep 
guard, and make prize of whatever they capture, so that 
Ormuz is now nothing but a deserted nest. 1 

The reason why the chief English factory, as well as ours, 
is located in Surat is not to be found in the extent of the 
market or of the sale of goods, but in the fact that the 
ships must be unloaded and left there, and the goods 
forwarded thence to the places where they are wanted. 
If an adequate supply of cash were sent there in addition 
to the goods, it would be unnecessary, or at any rate it 
would be a serious loss to the Company, to sell anything 
worth mentioning in Surat, for the banian merchants who 
buy from us there despatch the goods promptly to Ahma- 
dabad, Burhanpur, or Agra, where we have factories, and 
have to pay the cost of the staff which we employ. Profits 
should be credited in the place where they are made, unless 
the empty distinction were coveted to show the gains 
arising from our sales in the general accounts of the Surat 
factory, instead of in those of Agra, Ahmadabad, or Bur- 
hanpur (if a factory is to be established there). Further, 
there is nothing to be bought in Surat (except at a loss to 
the Company), apart from a few bafias which are woven at 
Navsari and also at Rander.* Absolutely no other mer- 
chandise is to be had in Surat, but much is brought there 
when the ships arrive, and we may be forced to purchase 

1 After the loss of Ormuz, the Portuguese at Muscat endeavoured 
to nmintftfa the collection of customs on all goods entering the 
Persian Gulf. Their frigates employed for this purpose were not 
in a position to interfere with the Dutch or English ships, or with 
boats convoyed by them, but they could, and probably did, seize 
Indian boats when unaccompanied. 

1 Navsari is a short distance south of Surat. Rander, formerly 
an important place, lies on the Tapti between Surat and the i 


baftas, candckins, chelas, etc., retail, because we have not 
the money to buy these in Broach or Ahmadabad during the 
rains, unless in order to do so we should have to be con- 
stantly involved in debt for loans carrying interest. The 
banians are now beginning to make a large profit in this 
way, and have raised the monthly rate of interest from 
i to i J per cent. ; if loans are taken yearly, they will raise 
it much higher, and the amount of interest, or loss, is a 
matter of great importance. 

Customs duties are here 3$ per cent, on all imports and 
exports of goods, and 2 per cent, on money, either gold or 
silver. At present these duties are collected for the King 
by the Governor, Mir Jahan Kuli Beg, but formerly they 
were assigned to various lords as salary; the arrangement 
has been altered as often as twice or thrice in the year. 

Weights and measures are smaller here than in Hindustan. 
The Gujarat gaz 1 is eight per cent, shorter than a Holland 
ell, and a ser weighs only 18 pice or f Ib. (Holland), 24 pice 
weighing i pound; these units are used in Surat, and 
practically throughout Gujarat. Formerly mahmudis, and 
not rupees, were current here; the mahmudi is smaller, 
and worth only 10 stivers by our reckoning. Rupees have 
come into circulation during the last five or six years; 
the mahmudi is still the nominal unit for sales and purchases, 
but the actual payment is generally made in rupees, which 
we take as 24 stivers. The King has now a mint in Surat, 
as in Ahmadabad and all other capital cities.- 

BROACH, 20 kos landward from Surat, is a small town, 
but it is splendidly situated on moderately high ground. 
The town is surrounded by a wall of white stone, and looks 
more like a fort than a city; it is a kos in circuit, and from 
a distance is very picturesque. It enjoys a much better and 
more agreeable climate than other towns, chiefly because 


1 The Gujarat measure for cotton cloth is usually called 'covad' 
in the literature of the period; it was rather less than J yard. The 
figure given, 8 per cent., seems somewhat too high. A contemporary 
report from Gujarat equates 15 ells to 15-16 covads, and the writer 
is to be trusted because he was then buying Gujarat cloth in large 
quantities, while Pelsaert had not been in Gujarat for some years, 
and may have made a slight miscalculation. The difference between, 
an ell and a covad was, I think, nearer one inch than two. 


of its elevation, owing to which it escapes all dangerous 
vapours; and further the well-known river Narbada, here 
a fine and broad stream, runs under the walls. This river 
flows past the fort of Handia, 1 beyond Burhanpur, and 
separates Hindustan from the Deccan. The town depends 
on the weaving industry, and produces the best-known 
fine baftas ; all other sorts of cloth, for Mocha, Mozambique, 
and the South [Java, etc.], are also woven there, as well 
as in Baroda, and other neighbouring places. Consequently 
a factory is badly required there for purchases for the South, 
but nothing can be sold, for the people are mostly poor, 
or artisans. Tolls are levied here on goods, whether brought 
here for consumption, or merely in transit; the rate is 
ij per cent., but it is calculated for all kinds of goods on 
a valuation made by the Kazi, or lawyer, of the town, 
and is in fact merely a knavish method of draining poor 
merchants dry. If for instance cloves are brought there on 
the way to Ahmadabad or Agra, the toll will be charged 
on the retail price which a local shop-keeper would charge 
for a pice-weight or ounce, without allowing for the heavy 
expense required to bring the goods into the shop, or for 
the seller's profit. It is the same for all kinds of goods 
in proportion, and, if this toll did not exist to stop us, 
we could bring all our goods from and to Agra much more 
conveniently than by way of Burhanpur, and at half the 
cost. It would therefore be an excellent thing if we could 
contract for this toll, or obtain an exemption from the King; 
the advantage and profit of this course can be readily 
inferred from what has been said above. 

1 Handia, or Hindiah, was headquarters of a sarkar (district) 
of Malwa, and had a fort commanding a passage of the Narbada. 


IN describing these important places, I have omitted mention 
of many flourishing cities, partly because of their number, 
and partly because they have no trade which would interest 
the Company. Further, I have not attempted to specify 
the quantity of goods imported, transported, or sold in 
the country, because no accurate statement can be made, 
for in this country conditions differ greatly from year to 
year; a good harvest will create a demand from every 
village, while these civil wars are ruinous to trade, and 
everybody is afraid to employ his capital. I hope therefore 
that our employers will be so kind as to overlook this 
shortcoming, considering how reasonable it is, and also 
the omission to describe the methods of producing many 
drugs which are obtained in Agra, as well as in the mountains 
of Parbet * and Bhutan, and in Kashmir. I have collected 
many samples of these drugs, but it will be best to have 
them identified, more certainly than I could do it, by 
druggists, herbalists, apothecaries, etc. I shall however 
record the following observations on borax, spikenard, 
and sal ammoniac, which are items of the Company's 
regular trade. 

Borax is found in the Eastern mountains, 8 in the dominions 
of a very powerful king, named Raja Bikram, the extent 

1 As the text shows, the word 'Drugs 1 had a wider meaning in 
Pelsaert's time than now. 

* I take 'Parbet' here to be a generic term for 'the mountains/ 
i.e. the eastern Himalayas. 

~* This account of Tibet must be taken as a reproduction of the 
vague, second-hand information obtainable in Agra. I have not 
identified the frontier mart Donga, but I am told the word means 
a level area in the hills, and possibly Pelsaert was mistaken in using 
it as a proper name. Mr. R Burn suggests that it may stand for 
Dogam, once an important market in what is now the Bahraich 
district, but the details given in the text are too scanty for certainty. 
The distance may be read either as 150, or as 450, kos ; the former 
reading is more probable on geographical grounds. Tachelachan 
may possibly represent the modern Taklakot, which lies on the route 
to Agra of the supplies of borax from the sources near the Mana- 
arowar lakes. 



of whose kingdom may be judged from the fact that it 
stretches to the frontiers of the White Tartars. Men of 
that nation carry on an extensive trade in it, because it 
yields many commodities in much demand, such as musk, 
civet, borax, spikenard, quicksilver, brass and copper, and 
a dye named meynsel which gives a handsome red-and- 
yellow colour. The inhabitants bring all these goods to 
Donga, 150 [?] kos from Agra and a great market; it is 
in Jahangir's territory, but is administered by Raja Bichha. 
The place where borax is found is named Tachelachan; 
it occurs in a river which flows through the eastern moun- 
tains and falls into a great lake called Masseroer [Manasa- 
rowar]. This lake must be very far away, for few or none 
of them [? my informants] have seen it, but they assert 
on the strength of their old books that in reality it can only 
be the sea, and not a lake. Owing to the peculiar quality 
of the water, the borax settles like coral in the bed of the 
river, and is dug out twice a year, and sold without any 
further treatment such as refining or evaporating. The 
supply is very large, sufficient to satisfy the whole world, 
and it usually sells at the low price of 4 or 5 rupees for a 
maund of 60 Ib. It is brought to Agra in bales packed in 
sheepskin, each weighing 4 maunds; here we pack it in 
bladders, which are filled with bitter oil, to prevent 
deterioration from long keeping or from its natural 

Spikenard grows wild in the mountains and is not sown. 
The plants grow a handbreadth high, and are closely 
intertwined; they are called koilte kie. 1 Spikenard is here 
considered to be a valuable medicine or drug, particularly 
for stiffened limbs; it is rubbed down with oil, smeared on 
the limb, and allowed to dry; it produces warmth, and 
expels the cold. The spikenard is the flower or upper shoots 
of the kuitekie [sic]. It is tawny in colour, and of the 
length of hair; the best sells in Agra at from 6 to 7 rupees 
the maund. In this country it is little valued or used, but 
it is exported to other places Tatta, Multan, Persia, the 
Deccan, or I may say the whole world. 

1 I have foiled to trace this name, which is not to be found in the 
botanical records at Kew. 


Sal ammoniac is found at Thanesar or Sirhind, on the 
road to Lahore. It is a sort of scum which forms on the 
site of very old brick-kilns ; it is dug and purified by evapora- 
tion, like saltpetre. The usual price is 7 to 7$ rupees per 
maund, but under instructions from our employers we have 
now ceased to purchase it. 

Saltpetre is found in many places near Agra, at distances 
of from 10 to 40 kos; it occurs usually in villages which 
have formerly been inhabited, and have been for some years 
abandoned. It is prepared from three kinds of earth, 
black, yellow, and white, but the black earth gives the best 
quality, being free from salt or brackishness. The method 
of manufacture is as follows. Two shallow reservoirs like 
salt-pans are made on the ground, one much larger than the 
other. The larger is filled with the salt earth and flooded 
with water from a channel in the ground; the earth is then 
thoroughly trodden out by numbers of labourers till it is 
pulverised and forms a thin paste; then it is allowed to 
stand for two days, so that the water may absorb all the 
substance. The water is then run oft by a large outlet 
into the other reservoir, where a deposit settles, which is 
crude saltpetre. This is evaporated in iron pans once or 
twice, according to the degree of whiteness- and purity 
desired, being skimmed continually until scarcely any 
impurities rise. It is then placed in large earthen jars, 
holding 25 to 30 Ib. ; a crust forms in the dew during the 
night, and if any impurities are still left, they sink to the 
bottom; the pots are then broken, and the saltpetre dried 
in the sun. From 5000 to 6000 maunds should be obtainable 
yearly in Agra alone, without reckoning the produce of 
places at a distance. The peasants, however, have now 
recognised that the produce, which was formerly cheap 
and in small demand, is wanted by us as well as by the 
English, who are also beginning to buy, and, like monkeys, 
are eager to imitate whatever they see done by others. 
The result is that, instead of the old price of ij rupees for 
a maund of 64 Ib., it is now up to 2 or 2\ rupees, and likely 
to rise steadily. The industry is of little importance, and 
known to everybody, so I shall bring this description to 
an end, and turn to 


THE land would give a plentiful, or even an extraordinary 
yield, if the peasants were not so cruelly and pitilessly 
oppressed; for villages which, owing to some small shortage 
of produce, are unable to pay the full amount of the 
revenue-farm, are made prize, so to speak, by their 
masters or governors, and wives and children sold, on the 
pretext of a charge of rebellion. 1 Some peasants abscond 
to escape their tyranny, and take refuge with rajas who 
are in rebellion, and consequently the fields lie empty and 
unsown, and grow into wildernesses. Such oppression is 
exceedingly prevalent in this country. 

The year is here divided into three seasons. In April, 
May and June the heat is intolerable, and men can scarcely 
breathe. More than that, hot winds blow continuously, 
as stifling as if they came straight from the furnace of hell. 
The air is filled with the dust raised by violent whirlwinds 
from the sandy soil, making day like the darkest night 
that human eyes have seen or that can be grasped by the 
imagination. Thus, in the afternoon of 15th June, 1624, 
I watched a travado of dust 2 coming up gradually, which 
so hid the sky and the sun that for two hours people could 
not tell if the world was at an end, for the darkness and the 
fury of the wind could not have been exceeded. Then the 
storm disappeared gradually, as it had come, and the sun 
shone again. The months of June, July, August, September, 
and October are reckoned as the rainy season, during which 
it sometimes rains steadily. The days are still very hot, 
but the rain brings a pleasant and refreshing coolness. 
In November, December, January, February and March 
it is tolerably cool, and the climate is pleasant. 

1 The syntax is here very obscure, but the rendering given is the 
most probable. The identification of non-payment of revenue 
with rebellion is, of course, a familiar idea in India. 

* Travado is Portuguese for a hurricane. 



From April to June the fields lie hard and dry, unfit for 
ploughing or sowing owing to the heat. When the ground 
has been moistened by a few days 1 rain, they begin to sow 
indigo, rice, various kinds of food-grains eaten by the poor, 
such as jowar, bajra, kangni, various pulses for cattle-food, 
such as moth, mung, orb, urd, and a seed from which oil is 
extracted. 1 When all these are off the land, they plough 
and sow again, for there are two harvests; that is to say, 
in December and January, they sow wheat and barley, 
various pulses such as chana, masur, malar, and sarson 
and alsi (from which oil is extracted). Large numbers 
of wells have to be dug in order to irrigate the soil, for at 
this time it is beginning to lose its productive power. 
Provided the rains are seasonable, and the cold is not 
excessive, there is a year of plenty, not merely of food, 
but in the trade in all sorts of commodities. Such vegetables 
as the thin, sandy soil can produce turnips, various beans, 
beetroot, salads, potherbs grow here in abundance, 
as in Holland. Trees are plentiful round the city, but very 
scarce in the open country; even four or five trees usually 
mark the site of a village. Firewood is consequently 
very dear, and is sold by weight, 60 Ib. for from 12 to 18 
pice (or 5 stivers), making a serious annual expense for a 
large household. The poor burn cow-dung, mixed with 
straw and dried in the sun, which is also sold, as peat is 
sold in Holland. Fruit trees are still scarcer, because the 
ground is salty, and all fruit comes from Kandahar or 
Kabul no apples, 8 pears, quinces, pomegranates, melons, 
alnjonds, dates, raisins, filberts, pistachios, and many 
other kinds. Great and wealthy amateurs have planted 
ill their gardens Persian vines which bear seedless grapes, 
but the fruit does not ripen properly in one year out of 
three. Oranges are plentiful in December, January and 
February, and are obtainable also in June and July; they 

1 The names of the rains crops, which are greatly mutilated in 
1h6venot, are quite clear in the text, with the exception of orb, 
which may be a copyist's error for arhar. The oilseed must be til 
(sesamum). The names of the winter crops are perfectly clear, 
though the seed-time is put too late. 

1 The grammar is at fault: the meaning is that apples, etc., are 
imported from Kandahar and Kabul, not produced locally. 


are very large, especially in the neighbourhood of Bayana. 
Lemons can be had in large quantities. The other fruits 
have too little taste, and are thought too little of, to be 
worth mentioning. 

The supply of meat, such as we have in Holland, is ample, 
btu it is cheaper than with us. There are sheep, goats, 
fowls, geese, ducks, deer and other game; and the supply 
is so large that it is little valued, and prices are low. Oxen 
and cows are not slaughtered, as they have to work while 
they are young, doing everything that is done by horses 
in Holland; and besides, their slaughter is strictly forbidden 
by the King on pain of death, though buffaloes may be 
freely killed. The King maintains this rule to please the 
Hindu rajas and banians, who regard the cow as one of the 
most veritable gods or sacred things. They also occasionally 
obtain by bribery a general order from the King, or from 
the Governor of a particular city, that no one shall catch 
any fish for several days, or for as long a period as they 
can secure; and, occasionally, that for some days no meat 
of any description, whether goat, sheep, or buffalo, shall be 
sold in the market. Such orders are extremely inconvenient 
for ordinary people, but the rich slaughter daily in their 
own houses. This would be a desirable country if men 
might indulge their hunger or appetite as they do in our 
cold lands; but the excessive heat makes a man powerless, 
takes away his desire for food, and limits him to water- 
drinking, which weakens or debilitates his body. But as 
this discussion is irrelevant, I shall close it, and turn to 


[Mv description cannot be complete], because a full account 
of the peculiar rule of this King could not easily be given, 
or would require first of all a delineation of its origin, which 
would be too discursive for this report, and which I intend 
to write separately. 1 The chief reason [of its distinctive 
features] is that Jahangir, disregarding his own person 
and position, has surrendered himself to a crafty wife of 
humble lineage, as the result either of her arts or of her 
persuasive tongue. She has taken, and still continues 
increasingly to take, such advantage of this opportunity, 
that she has gradually enriched herself with superabundant 
treasures, and has secured a more than royal position. 
Her former and present supporters have been well rewarded, 
so that now most of the men who are near the King owe 
their promotion to her, and are consequently under such 
obligations to her, that he [Jahangir] is King in name only, 
while she and her brother Asaf Khan hold the kingdom 
firmly in their hands. Many misunderstandings result, 
for the King's orders or grants of appointments, etc., are 
not certainties, being of no value until they have been 
approved by the Queen. They 2 are impelled by a high 
and spirited temper, and although they have attained to 
the highest honour and rank, they still strive for an im- 
possible advancement, for the world cannot sustain their 
eminence. Meanwhile she erects very expensive buildings 
in all directions sarais, or halting-places for travellers 
and merchants, and pleasure-gardens and palaces such 
as no one has ever made before intending thereby to 
establish an enduring reputation. 

The King does not trouble himself with public affairs, 
but behaves as if they were no concern of his. If anyone 

1 For this account, see the Introduction. 

1 The text alternates between singular and plural, apparently 
referring sometimes to Nurjahan alone, and sometimes to Nurjahan 
and Asaf Khan jointly. 



with a request to make at Court obtains an audience or is 
allowed to speak, the King hears him indeed, but will 
give no definite answer of Yes or No, referring him promptly 
to Asaf Khan, who in the same way will dispose of no 
important matter without communicating with his sister, 
tk~ Queen, and who regulates his attitude in such a way 
that the authority of neither of them may be diminished. 
Anyone then who obtains a favour must thank them for 
it, and not the King. The chief business that interests 
the King, and about which he asks questions, is in what 
places there is good hunting, sport being his greatest delight. 
He rides out to hunt in the afternoon when the sun's heat 
has diminished, or when he wakes up; then he dresses and 
mounts a horse, or takes his seat on an elephant, not con- 
sidering whether there are many or few attendants, or 
none at all, disregarding rain or wind, and he will not 
return till he has caught something, whether with falcons, 
or with leopards. Hunting with leopards is a remarkable 
form of sport. 1 These brutes are so accustomed to men that 
they are as tame as cats, whether they are reared from 
cubs or tamed when full grown. They are very carefully 
fed, and each has two men to look after him, as well as a 
cart, in which they sit, or are driven out, daily. When 
they come to a place where they sight buck, the leopard 
is released from the cart, his keepers show him the direction, 
and he creeps on his four feet until he gets a view, taking 
cover behind trees, plants or thickets, until he sees that 
his first quick rush and spring will be successful, for that 
is his only chance. Most of the leopards are so well trained 
that they never, or very seldom, miss. Sometimes also, 
but very rarely, the King hunts buck with buck. For this 
form of sport, buck are so thoroughly tamed that when 
they have been set free, they will come back when called 
by their masters or keepers. When there is to be a hunt, 
a running noose, made of tested sinews, is fastened on the 

1 The prominence of sport in an account of the administration 
seems to be adequately explained by the fact that it was the King's 
chief interest. Hunting with leopards is a familiar form of sport; 
for hunting with tame buck see Ain-i-Akbari (I. 291 of Blochmann's 


tame buck's horns, and lies on his neck. When he sights 
a wild buck, he at once presents his horns to fight, and they 
push and struggle with their horns, until the tame buck 
feels that the noose has caught. Then he springs back 
and pulls so that they hold each other fast by the horns, 
until the men, who are standing or lying near, run up and 
capture the wild buck alive. These hunting pleasures 
surpass those of our country. The fanciers of buck derive 
great enjoyment or pastime from them, for they set them 
constantly to fight for stakes; but some of the animals 
are so furious that they will not yield, though they struggle 
till they fall dead, and they understand how to attack 
with their horns as well as if they had learned the art of 

When the King was a young man, he preferred shooting 
to all other forms of sport, and he was a splendid shot. 
When forests or jungles which contained pig, lions, tigers 
and other dangerous beasts were pointed out to him, he 
went to the place, and killing lions and tigers was prohibited, 
unless information had previously been given to the King, 
who risked his life in such sport. A remarkable instance of 
this occurred in my time. 1 The King was out lion-shooting 
at Rupbas near Agra. For some time a lion had been 
doing great harm, killing men and cattle, and the King 
went there for this special purpose, surrounding his lair 
with large numbers of men; but no one, even if he was 
attacked, was allowed to kill the lion with any weapon 
except a dagger, even though he might be wounded. The 
King was inside the circle with his gun, accompanied only 
by one soldier, all his lords being scattered to drive the lion 
towards him, when suddenly the lion jumped out of a 
thicket and sprang at him. His companion, a Hindu or 
Rajput horseman named Anira, seeing that he could not 
safely use his gun, and that the King was in imminent 
danger of injury, caught the lion by the neck, and held 

The classical account of the courage of Anira (properly, Anirai 
alan), is in The Memoirs ofjakangir, 1. 185. The differences 

in the 

tract are such as might naturally occur in the case of a popular 
tale. The correct date is 1610-1 1, or before Pelsaert's time; perhaps 
the story had been told to him as having occulted 'quite recently.' 


on as if dead, and wrestled with him. Sometimes one was 
on top and sometimes the other, and in the struggle, the 
lion tore all the flesh of his arms and legs, indeed nearly 
his whole body, so that the bare bones showed everywhere, 
although the King had wounded the lion several times with 
hk sword. At last men ran up, attracted by the shouting, 
and rescued Anira still living. The King showed the 
greatest solicitude for his cure, and appointed him imme- 
diately to the rank of 500 horse, from which he has won 
promotion by his courage until he is now a noble of 3000 
horse. There have doubtless been many similar stories 
or occurrences in other countries, but I want to emphasise 
the devotion displayed by such subordinates, who are ready 
to give their life for their master as if they were actuated 
by a passion of love. But matters such as these are irrel- 
evant, and we must return to the task we have undertaken. 
When the King comes home in the evening from hunting, 
he takes his seat in his Ghusalkhana, 1 where all the lords 
come to present themselves, and where strangers who have 
requests to make are received in audience. He sits here 
till a quarter of the night or more has passed, and during 
this time he drinks his three piyala, or cups, of wine, taking 
them successively at regular intervals; and when he drinks, 
all the bystanders shout or cry out wishes that it may do 
him good, just as in our country when "the King drinks" 
is played. 2 Everyone leaves when the last cup has been 
drunk, and the King goes to bed. As soon as all the men 
have left, the Queen comes with the female slaves, and they 
undress him, chafing and fondling him as if he were a little 
child; for his three cups have made him so "happy" 1 
that he is more disposed to rest than to keep awake. This 
is the time when his wife, who knows so well how to manage 
him that she obtains whatever she asks for or desires, 
gets always 'yes,' and hardly ever 'no/ in reply. 

1 Ghusalkhana was the contemporary name of the apartment 
where the Emperor gave audience. 

* This is an incident of the festivities of Twelfth Nigh tin Holland. 
The moment when 'De Koning drinkt' is illustrated by many 
paintings of the Flemish school, 

Literally 'blessed,' a colloquial term for a stage a little short of 


The King's territories, cities, and villages, with the 
annual yield of each, are all entered in a register which is 
in charge of the Diwan, at present Khwaja Abdul Hasan. 1 
Everyone, whether prince, amir, or tnansabdar, is granted, 
in accordance with his rank (be it 100, or 1000, or 10,000 
horse), the appropriate income, to be derived from the 
administration of certain chief places. Some of the grantees, 
who are in attendance on the King, send some of their 
employees to represent them, or else hand over their grants 
to farmers, or karoris [sub-collectors], who have to take the 
risk of good or bad harvests; but the provinces are so 
impoverished that a jagir [assignment of revenue] which is 
reckoned to be worth 50,000 rupees, may sometimes not 
yield even 25,[ooo], although so much is wrung from the 
peasants, that even dry bread is scarcely left to fill their 
stomachs. For that reason, many of the lords who hold the 
rank of 5000 horse, do not keep even 1000 in their employ, 
but they spend great sums on an extravagant display of 
elephants, horses, and servants, so that they ride out more 
like kings than subjects, everyone shouting Phoos? that is to 
say, ' Out of the way ! ' or ' Make room ! ' People who do not 
make way are beaten, and the servants pay very little 
regard to whom they hit. 

The most astonishing thing is that the avarice of the 
nobles has no solid basis, though they devote themselves 
entirely to gathering their treasures, without a thought of 
the cruelty or injustice involved. Immediately on the 
death of a lord who has enjoyed the King's jagir, be he 
great or small, without any exception even before the 
breath is out of his body the King's officers are ready on 
the spot, and make an inventory of the entire estate, 
recording everything down to the value of a single pice, 
even to the dresses and jewels of the ladies, provided they 

1 Khwaja Abul (not Abdul) Hasan was appointed chief Diwan, 
or revenue administrator, in 1621-22. Mansdbdar denotes a 
possessor of military rank below a certain grade, while officers of 
superior rank were entitled amir. 

1 Mr. R. Burn tells me that the correct form of this exclamation 
is probably poh-sha, the imperative of a Pashtu verb signifying 'to 
understand'; it may be rendered 'Take care! 1 


have not concealed them. The King takes back the whole 
estate absolutely for himself, except in a case where the 
deceased has done good service in his lifetime, when the 
women and children are given enough to live on, but no 
more. 1 It might be supposed that wife, or children, or 
friwids, could conceal during his [the lord's] lifetime enough 
for the family to live on, but this would be very difficult. 
As a rule all the possessions of the lords, and their trans- 
actions, are not secret, but perfectly well-known, for each 
has his diwan [steward], through whose hands everything 
passes; he has many subordinates, and for work that 
could be done by one man they have ten here; and each 
of them has some definite charge, for which he must account* 
[When the lord dies,] all these subordinates are arrested, 
and compelled to show from their books and papers where 
all the cash or property is deposited, and how their master's 
income has been disposed of; and if there is any suspicion 
about their disclosures, they are tortured until they tell 
the truth. And so you may see a man whom you knew 
with his turban cocked on one side, and nearly as un- 
approachable as his master, now running about with a 
torn coat and a pinched face; for it is rarely that such 
men can obtain similar employment from other masters, 
and they go about like pictures of death in life, as I have 
known many of them to do. 

I have often ventured to ask great lords what is their 
true object in being so eager to amass their treasures, 
when what they have gathered is of no use to them or to 
their family. Their answers have been based on the 
emptiest worldly vanity, for they say that it is a very great 
and imperishable reputation if it is generally known, or 
the official records show, that such a man has left an estate 
worth so much. In reply I have urged that it would be 
possible to win a greater reputation for time and eternity, 
if, seeing that their friends and relations could expect 
no enjoyment from their wealth, they would share it with 

1 The syntax is obscure, and the sentence may possibly be intended 
to mean that the women and children are left with only the bare 
necessaries of life, except in a case where the deceased has done 
good service (when presumably they would get more). 


the poor, who in this country are in hundreds of thousands, 
or indeed innumerable, and would banish outside their 
doors all oppression, injustice, excessive pomp, chicanery, 
and similar practices, whereby they have nothing to hope 
for in the future, but very much to fear. [When I have 
urged such arguments], they have closed the discussion by 
saying that it is just the custom of the country. 

It is the practice of the King, or rather of his wife, to 
give rapid advancement and promotion to any soldier, 
however low his rank, who has carried out orders with 
credit, or has displayed courage in the field. On the other 
hand, a very small fault, or a trifling mistake, may bring 
a man to the depths of misery or to the scaffold, and con- 
sequently everything in the kingdom is uncertain. Wealth, 
position, love, friendship, confidence, everything hangs 
by a thread. Nothing is permanent, 1 yea, even the noble 
buildings gardens, tombs, or palaces, which, in and near 
every city, one cannot contemplate without pity or distress 
because of their ruined state. For in this they are to be 
despised above all the laziest nations of the world, because 
they build them with so many hundreds of thousands, 
and yet keep them in repair only so long as the owners 
live and have the means. Once the builder is dead, no 
one will care for the buildings; the son will neglect his 
father's work, the mother her son's, brothers and friends 
will take no care for each other's buildings; everyone 
tries, as far as possible, to erect a new building of his own, 
and establish his own reputation alongside that of his 
ancestors. Consequently, it may be said that if all these 
buildings and erections were attended to and repaired for 
a century, the lands of every city, and even village, would 
be adorned with monuments; but as a matter of fact the 
roads leading to the cities are strewn with fallen columns 
of stone. 

1 The passage which follows is untranslatable as it stands. The 
rendering given involves three small emendations of the text, 
proposed by Professor Geyl, and is preferable to that which I offered 
in From Akbav to Aurangzeb, p. 197. The main point, that the 
buildings are allowed to go to ruin, is clear enough; the difficulty 
is in the reference to other nations. The words 'hundreds of 
thousands* may be taken as referring to either money or labourers. 


As regards the laws, they are scarcely observed at all, 
for the administration is absolutely autocratic, but there 
are books of law, which are in charge of their lawyers, the 
Kazis. Their laws contain such provisions as hand for 
hand, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; but who will excom- 
municate the Pope ? And who would dare to ask a Governor 
'Why do you rule us this way or that way? Our Law 
orders thus.' The facts are very different, although in 
every city there is a kachhahri, or royal court of justice, 
where the Governor, the Diwan, the Bakhshi, the Kotwal, 
the Kazi, and other officers sit together daily, or four days 
in the week. 1 Here all disputes are disposed of, but not 
until avarice has had its share. All capital cases, such as 
thefts, murders, or crimes are finally disposed of by the 
Governor, if the criminals are poor and unable to pay, 
and the sweepers drag them out to execution with very 
little ceremony. In the case of other offences the criminals 
are seldom or never executed; their property is merely 
confiscated for the Governor and Kotwal. Ordinary 
questions of divorce, quarrels, fights, threats, and the like, 
are in the hands of the Kotwal and the Kazi. One must 
indeed be sorry for the man who has to come to judgment 
before these godless 'un-judges'; their eyes are bleared 
with greed, their mouths gape like wolves for covetousness, 
and their bellies hunger for the bread of the poor; everyone 
stands with hands open to receive, for no mercy or com- 
passion can be had except on payment of cash. This fault 
should not be attributed to judges or officers alone, for the 
evil is a universal plague; from the least to the greatest, 
right up to the King himself, everyone is infected with 
insatiable greed, so that if one has any business to transact 
with Governors or in palaces, he must not set about it 
without 'the vision of angels,' 2 for without presents he 

1 The titles of the local administrative hierarchy will be familiar 
to students of the period. 'Governor' is the Amil, as explained 
above (i): 'Diwan/ the representative of the Imperial revenue 
department; 'Kotwal,' the city-governor; Kazi, the judge. 
'Bakhshi' here denotes, I suspect, the Faujdar, or military com- 
mandant, who ranked with the Amil. 

1 This phrase seems to be a biblical, or literary, allusion, but I 
have failed to trace it. 


need expect very little answer to his petitions. Our 
honourable employers need not deign to be surprised at 
this, for it is the custom of the country. 

The King's letters or f armans to the chief lords or princes 
are transmitted with incredible speed, because royal runners 
are posted in the villages 4 or 5 kos apart, taking their 
turns of duty throughout the day and the night, and they 
take over a letter immediately on its arrival, run with it 
to the next village in a breath, and hand it over to another 
messenger. So the letter goes steadily on, and will travel 
80 kos between night and day. Further the King has 
pigeons kept everywhere, to cany letters in time of need 
or great urgency. No doubt this is done at home also in 
the case of sieges, but only for short distances, whereas 
this King possesses the largest area of all the kingdoms of 
the world. The length of it from Surat northwards to 
Kashmir is noo kos, or 800 [Holland] miles, taking ij kos 
to the mile. The stages are: Surat to Burhanpur, 150 kos; 
thence to Agra, 350 k. ; Agra to Lahore, 300 k. ; and from 
Lahore to Kashmir 300 k. The route by Ahmadabad is 
50 kos nearer. Towards the North-West, the distance 
from Lahore, by Multan, to Kandahar is 600 k. On the 
East, it is 1000 k. from Agra to the sea coast through 
Purop, Bengal, and Orissa. In the West, Kabul is 300 k. 
from Lahore; and in the South West, the kingdom extends 
to Tatta, Sind and Bakkar. If all these countries were 
justly or rationally governed, they would not only yield 
an incalculable income, but would enable him [Jahangir] 
to conquer all the neighbouring kingdoms. But is is im- 
portant to recognise also that he is to be regarded as King 
of the plains or the open roads only; for in many places 
you can travel only with a strong body of men, or on 
payment of heavy tolls to rebels. The whole country is 
enclosed and broken up by many mountains, and the people 
who live in, on, or beyond, the mountains know nothing 
of any king, or of Jahangir; they recognise only their 
Rajas, who are very numerous, and to whom the country 
is apportioned in many small fragments by old tradition. 
Jahangir, whose name implies that he grasps the whole 
world, must therefore be regarded as ruling no more than 


half the dominions which he claims, since there are nearly 
as many rebels as subjects. Taking the chief cities 
for example, at Surat the forces of Raja Piepel 1 come 
pillaging up to, or inside, the city, murdering the people, 
and burning the villages; and in the same way, near 
Ahmadabad, Burhanpur, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, and many 
other cities, thieves, and robbers come in force by night 
or day like open enemies. The Governors are usually 
bribed by the thieves to remain inactive, for avarice 
dominates manly honour, and, instead of maintaining troops, 
they fill and adorn their mahals with beautiful women, 
and seem to have the pleasure-house of the whole world 
within their walls. I shall now try to describe them as 
far as is possible, as well as the poverty of the people at 

1 I have not traced this particular Raja. 


of the rich in their great superfluity and absolute power, 
and the utter subjection and poverty of the common people 
poverty so great and miserable that the life of the people 
can be depicted or accurately described only as the home of 
stark want and the dwelling-place of bitter woe. Never- 
theless, the people endure patiently, professing that they 
do not deserve anything better; and scarcely anyone will 
make an effort, for a ladder by which to climb higher is 
hard to find, because a workman's children can follow no 
occupation other than that of their father, nor can they 
inter-marry with any other caste. 

There are three classes of the people who are indeed 
nominally free, but whose status differs very little from 
voluntary slavery workmen, peons or servants, and 
shopkeepers. For the workman there are two scourges, 
the first of which is low wages. Goldsmiths, painters, 1 
embroiderers, carpet-makers, cotton or silk-weavers, black- 
smiths, coppersmiths, tailors, masons, builders, stone- 
cutters, a hundred crafts in all, for a job which one man 
would do in Holland here passes through four men's hands 
before it is finished, any of these by working from morning 
to night can earn only 5 or 6 tackas* that is, 4 or 5 stivers 
in wages. The second [scourge] is [the oppression of] 
the Governor, the nobles, the Diwan, the Kotwal, the 
Bakhshi, and other royal officers. If any of these wants a 
workman, the man is not asked if he is willing to come, but 
is seized in the house or in the street, well beaten if he should 
dare to raise any objection, and in the evening paid half 
his wages, or nothing at all. From these facts the nature 
of their food can be easily inferred. They know little of 
the taste of meat. For their monotonous daily food they 

1 'Painters' denotes the men who made 'painted' cloth, or chintz. 

1 The word 'tacka' is sometimes hard to interpret, bnt the equa- 
tion here given shows that Pelsaert used it for the dam. The word 
is presumably tonka. 



have nothing but a little khichri, 1 made of 'green pulse' 
mixed with rice, which is cooked with water over a little fire 
until the moisture has evaporated, and eaten hot with butter 
in the evening; in the day time they munch a little parched 
pulse or other grain, 2 which they say suffices for their lean 

Their houses are built of mud with thatched roofs. 
Furniture there is little or none, except some earthenware 
pots to hold water and for cooking, and two beds, one for 
the man, the other for his wife; for here man and wife do 
not sleep together, but the man calls his wife when he wants 
her in the night, and when he has finished she goes back 
to her own place or bed. Their bedclothes are scanty, 
merely a sheet, or perhaps two, serving both as under- 
and over-sheet; this is sufficient in the hot weather, but the 
bitter cold nights are miserable indeed, and they try to 
keep warm over little cowdung fires which are lit outside 
the doors, because the houses have no fire-places or chimneys ; 
the smoke from these fires all over the city is so great 
that the eyes run, and the throat seems to be choked. 

Peons or servants are exceedingly numerous in this 
country, for everyone be he mounted soldier, merchant, 
or king's official keeps as many as his position and cir- 
cumstances permit. Outside the house, they serve for 
display, running continually before their master's horse; 
inside, they do the work of the house, each knowing his 
own duties. The tziurewardar[ ?] 8 attends only to his horse, 
the bailwan, or carter, to his cart and oxen; the farrash, 

1 In the text, kitchery. The original of 'green pulse' is 'groene 
ert Jens'; the plpase probably indicates moth, the cheapest of the 
pulses. In the Agra Account-book of 1637-9, preserved in MS. at 
The Hague, a similar phrase is used to explain the word moth, which 
appears frequently in the accounts. 

8 By a curious perversion of this passage, Thevenot has 'coffee 
and vegetables/ His kahue (coffee) seems to come from a mis- 
reading of the Dutch verb kauwen, which I render 'munch.' 

8 This word is not clear in the MS. Thevenot has sclwidar: 
perhaps silahdar is intended. The remaining names of servants are 
familiar, except tzantel, which may represent either chandai or 


or tent-pitcher, attends to his tent on the way, spreads 
carpets, both on the march and in the house, and looks 
after the diwan-khana or sitting room; the masakhi, or 
torch-bearer, looks to his torch, and lights lamps and 
candles in the evening; the sarwan, or camel-driver, looks 
to his camel; and there are two or three mahawats or 
attendants to each elephant according to its size. The 
is ant el, or messenger, a plume on his head and two bells 
at his belt, runs at a steady pace, ringing the bells; they 
carry their master's letters a long distance in a short time, 
covering 25 to 30 kos in a day ; but they eat much postibangk 1 
or opium regularly, so that they do not feel the continuous 
work or fatigue. They run on with dizzy head; they 
will not as a rule answer anyone who asks where they come 
from or where they are going, but hurry straight on. These 
messengers may bring their masters, who hold official 
positions as governors, into great credit, or disgrace, with 
the King, because letters on important official business 
are sometimes delayed, and if the news they contain should 
reach the King first from some other place, whether nearer 
or more distant, the officer will be blamed for negligence, 
and dismissed from his post. There are many more ser- 
vants in the crowd, whom it would take too long to enumer- 
ate; in the houses of the great lords each servant confines 
himself strictly to his own duties, and it is like life on the 
Portuguese ships, where the chief boatswain, if he saw the 
foremast fall overboard, would not disgrace himself by 
going forward or on to the forecastle, though he could save 
the mast by doing so. 

For this slack and lazy service the wages are paid by 
the Moguls only after large deductions, for most of the 
great lords reckon 40 days to the month, and pay from 
3 to 4 rupees for that period; while wages are often left 
several months in arrears, and then paid in worn-out 
clothes or other things. If, however, the master holds 
office or power, the servants are arrogant, oppressing the 
innocent, and sinning on the strength of their master's 
greatness. Very few of them serve their master honestly; 

1 Post, opium, and bhang, infusion of hemp. 


they steal whatever they can; if they buy only a pice-worth 
of food, they will take their share or dasturi [commission]. 
The masters sometimes know this very well, but they suppose 
it is paid by the poor, and not out of their pockets; in 
this, however, they are mistaken, because the commission 
is always taken into account in the sale. Otherwise it 
would be impossible for the servants to feed themselves 
and their families on such low wages; and accordingly 
their position and manner of life differs very little from that 
of the workman in the wealth of their poverty. 1 

Whatever he may deal in spices, drugs, fruit, cotton 
goods, cloth, or anything else the shopkeeper is held in 
greater respect than the workman, and some of them are 
even well-to-do; but they must not let the fact be seen, 
or they will be the victims of a trumped-up charge, and 
whatever they have will be confiscated in legal form, because 
informers swarm like flies round the governors, and make 
no difference between friends and enemies, perjuring them- 
selves when necessary in order to remain in favour. Further, 
they are subject to a rule that if the King's nobles, or 
governors, should require any of their goods, they must sell 
for very little less than half price; for to begin with, 
they must give great weight for small coins, 2 the difference 
being 20 'per cent; then 9 per cent is deducted for dasturi 
[commission]; then clerks, overseers, cashiers, 8 and others 
all know very well how to get their share; so that in such 
circumstances the unfortunate shopkeeper may be robbed 
in a single hour of the profits of a whole month, although 
they bear the general cost. 4 

1 Literally, 'in their rich poverty/ apparently a fanciful phrase. 

2 Vide 5, above, where Pelsaert explains that ordinary tran- 
sactions were carried out either in Akbari or Jahangiri units: the 
meaning is that in these forced sales tradesmen had to give Jahangiri 
weight for Akbari money. 

8 Text has 'schryvers, droges mosseroufs.' 'Droges' I take to 
be daroghas; the last word is probably a corruption of some such 
form as mutasarrif. 

4 The meaning of the last six words is obscure. Perhaps the 
reference is to the overhead costs of the business, which have still 
to be met though the particular transaction yields no profit. 


This is a short sketch of the life of these poor wretches, 
who, in their submissive bondage, may be compared to 
poor, contemptible earthworms, or to little fishes, which, 
however closely they may conceal themselves, are swallowed 
up by the great monsters of a wild sea. Now we shall 
write a little of the manner of life of the great and rich, 
but, in order to do so, we must entirely change our tune; 
for the pen which has described bitter poverty, clothed 
with the woeful garment of sighs, the foe of love, friendship 
and happiness, but the friend of loneliness wet with the 
daily dew of tears, that pen must entirely change its 
style, and tell that in the palaces of these lords dwells all the 
wealth there is, wealth which glitters indeed, but is borrowed, 
wrung from the sweat of the poor. Consequently their 
position is as unstable as the wind, resting on no firm 
foundation, but rather on pillars of glass, resplendent 
in the eyes of the world, but collapsing under the stress of 
even a slight storm. 

Their mahals are adorned internally with lascivious 
sensuality, wanton and reckless festivity, superfluous pomp, 
inflated pride, and ornamental daintiness, while the servants 
of the lords may justly be described as a generation of 
iniquity, greed and oppression, for, like their masters, they 
make hay while the sun shines. Sometimes while they 
[the nobles] think they are exalted to a seat in heaven, an 
envious report to the King may cast them down to the 
depths of woe. Very few of them, however, think of the 
future, but they enjoy themselves to the uttermost while 
they can. As a rule they have three or four wives, the 
daughters of worthy men, but the senior wife commands 
most respect. All live together in the enclosure surrounded 
by high walls, which is called the mahal, having tanks 
and gardens inside. Each wife has separate apartments 
for herself and her slaves, of whom there may be 10, or 20, 
or 100, according to her fortune. Each has a regular monthly 
allowance for her gustos 1 [expenditure]. Jewels and clothes 
are provided by the husband according to the extent of 
his affection. Their food comes from one kitchen, but each 

1 The Portuguese word gastos is used in other contemporary 
Dutch records m the sense of housekeeping or travelling expenses. 


wife takes it in her own apartments; for they hate each 
other secretly, though they seldom or never allow it to be 
seen, because of their desire to retain the favour of their 
husband, whom they fear, honour, and worship, as a god 
rather than a man. Each night he visits a particular 
wife, or mahal, and receives a very warm welcome from 
her and from the slaves, who, dressed specially for the 
occasion, seem to fly, rather than run, about their duties. 
If it is the hot weather, they undress the husband as soon 
as he comes in, and rub his body with pounded sandalwood 
and rosewater, or some other scented and cooling oil. 
Fans are kept going steadily in the room, or in the open 
air, where they usually sit. Some of the slaves chafe the 
master's hands and feet, some sit and sing, or play music 
and dance, or provide other recreation, the wife sitting near 
him all the time. They study night and day how to make 
exciting perfumes and efficacious preserves, such as mosseri 
or falonj, 1 containing amber, pearls, gold, opium, and 
other stimulants; but these are mostly for their own use, 
for they eat them occasionally in the day-time, because 
they produce a pleasant elevation of the spirit. In the 
cool of the evening they drink a great deal of wine, for the 
women learn the habit quickly from their husbands, and 
drinking has become very fashionable in the last few years. 
The husband sits like a golden cock among the gilded hens 
until midnight, or until passion, or drink, sends him to bed. 
Then if one of the pretty slave girls takes his fancy, he calls 
her to him and enjoys her, his wife not daring to show any 
signs of displeasure, but dissembling, though she will take 
it out of the slave-girl later on. 

Two or three eunuchs, or more, who are merely purchased 
Bengali slaves, but are usually faithful to their master, are 
appointed for each wife, to ensure that she is seen by no 
man except her husband; and, if a eunuch fails in this 
duty, he, with everyone else to blame for the stranger's 
presence, is in danger of losing his life. They are thus held 

1 'Falonj' is presumably named from the seed falanja, which 
is used as a perfume. 'Mosseri' suggests elevation of spirit; but 
I have not attempted to investigate the precise nature of these 


in high esteem by their master, but the women pay them 
still greater regard, for the whole management of the 
mahal is in their hands, and they can give or refuse whatever 
is wanted. Thus they can get whatever they desire 
fine horses to ride, servants to attend them outside, and 
female slaves inside the house, clothes as fine and smart 
as those of their master himself. The wives feel themselves 
bound to do all this, in order that what happens in the 
house may be concealed from their husband's knowledge; 
for many, or perhaps most of them, so far forget themselves, 
that, when their husband has gone away, either to Court, 
or to some place where he takes only his favourite wife, 
and leaves the rest at home, they allow the eunuch to 
enjoy them according to his ability, and thus gratify their 
burning passions when they have no opportunity of going 
out; but otherwise they spare no craft or trouble to enable 
them to enjoy themselves outside. These wretched women 
wear, indeed, the most expensive clothes, eat the daintiest 
food, and enjoy all worldly pleasures except one, and for 
that one they grieve, saying they would willingly give 
everything in exchange for a beggar's poverty. 

The ladies of our country should be able to realise from 
this description the good fortune of their birth, and the 
extent of their freedom when compared with the position 
of ladies like them in other lands; but this topic lies outside 
the scope of my task, and I shall now speak of the houses 
which are built here. They are noble and pleasant, with 
many apartments, but there is not much in the way of an 
upper story except a flat roof, on which to enjoy the evening 
air. There are usually gardens and tanks inside the house; 
and in the hot weather the tanks are filled daily with fresh 
water, drawn by oxen from wells. The water is drawn, 
or sometimes raised by a wheel, in such quantity that it 
flows through a leaden pipe and rises like a fountain; in 
this climate water and plants are a refreshment and recrea- 
tion unknown in our cold country. These houses last for 
a few years only, because the walls are built with mud 
instead of mortar, but the white plaster of the walls is 
very noteworthy, and far superior to anything in our 


country. They use unslaked Ume, which is mixed with 
milk, gum, and sugar into a thin paste. When the walls 
have been plastered with lime, they apply this paste, 
rubbing it with well-designed trowels until it is smooth; 
then they polish it steadily with agates, perhaps for a whole 
day, until it is dry and hard, and shines like alabaster, 
or can even be used as a looking-glass. 

They have no furniture of the kind we delight in, such 
as tables, stools, benches, cupboards, bedsteads, etc.; 
but their cots, or sleeping places, and other furniture of 
kinds unknown in our country, are lavishly ornamented 
with gold or silver, and they use more gold and silver in 
serving food than we do, though nearly all of it is used in 
the mahal, and is seen by scarcely anybody except women. 
Outside the mahdl t there is only the diwan-khana, or sitting- 
place, which is spread with handsome carpets, and kept 
very clean and neat. Here the lord takes his seat in the 
morning to attend to his business, whatever it is, and here 
all his subordinates come to salaam him. This is a very 
humble salute, in which the body is bent forward, and the 
right hand is placed on the head; but persons of equal rank 
or position merely bend the body. If strangers desire 
admittance, their names are first announced, and they are 
then introduced. After saluting, they take seats appro- 
priate to their position in a row on each side of their host, 
and that so humbly that they seem unlike themselves, 
for it is more like a school of wise and virtuous philosophers 
than a gathering of false infidels; and no one will move 
from his place, though they should sit the whole day. 
There is a certain gravity in their mode of speaking; they 
make no loud noise, and do not shout or use gestures. 
If they talk secrets, which they do not wish to be heard 
by everybody, they hold a handkerchief, or their girdle, 
before their mouths, so that neither speaker shall be touched 
by the other's breath. Everyone leaves as soon as he has 
obtained an answer to his request, but friends, acquaintances, 
and persons of position remain until the lord retires into 
the house, or unless the audience is prolonged until meal- 
time, though there are no fixed hours for meals. Before 
eating they first wash their hands; then the tablecloth 


is brought and spread on the floor. The food 1 consists of 
birinj, aeshalia, pottaeb, (yellow, red, green, or black), 
zueyla, dupiaza; also roast meats, and various other good 
courses, served on very large dishes, with too little butter, 
and too much spice for our taste. 8 The tsaftergir*, or 
head servant, sits in the middle, and serves each guest 
according to his rank, the senior first. In eating, they 
use little in the way of spoons or knives except their five 
fingers, which they besmear up to the knuckles soldier- 
fashion, for napkins are not used, and it is very bad manners 
to lick the fingers. Each guest confines himself to the 
portion served before him; no food is touched with the 
left hand; and little or nothing is drunk while eating, 
whether water or wine, until they have said their prayer 
and washed their hands. Alike at midday and in the evening 
the guests rise and take their leave with scanty compliments, 
saying merely, God grant a lasting blessing on the house! 
and the host then goes into his mahal to sleep until the 
evening, when he usually comes out again to the sitting- 
place. Such are the usual customs, but detailed descriptions 
such as this must show some discrepancies. Some rich 
people, and many who are economical, take their meals in 
the mahal in order to save the heavy cost of the outside 
service; and again they cannot hold their reception when 
they are in the King's camp, because they are on duty 
continuously from morning to night. Some of the nobles, 
again, have chaste wives, but they are too few to be worth 
mentioning; most of the ladies are tarred with the same 
brush, and when the husband is away, though he may think 
they are guarded quite safely by his eunuchs, they are too 
clever for Argus himself with his hundred eyes, and get 
all the pleasure they can, though not so much as they desire. 

1 Birinj (dressed rice) and dupiaza (meat with onions, etc.) are 
described in the account of Akbar's kitchen in the Ain-i-Akbari (I. 
59, in Blochmann's translation). Pollaeb may be a perversion of 
pu&o. 'Aeshalia* should perhaps be al-shalla (spiced meat). 
'Zueyla' is altered in the text, and may possibly be a corruption of 
t'hvli (spiced wheaten cakes). 

8 This clause is obscure, and the text is probably corrupt. The 
statement that there was too little butter is clear, but the words 
regarding spices are meaningless as they stand, and the rendering 
is conjectural. 

9 Perhaps safrachi (table-servant) is meant; the word is altered 
in the text. 


AN account of the religion of Muhammad, taken from the 
Koran, has been published in our language, but it makes 
no reference to a large number of superstitions which are 
prevalent in this country. 1 I shall therefore say a little 
about some which are common here, and which seem not 
unlike the views of the papists; for when Muhammad 
compiled his Koran, he picked various opinions from all 
religions and there were a good many, owing to the dis- 
union and schisms in the church particularly those which 
were false and pleasing to worldly eyes. Thus they have 
among them as many pirs, or prophets, as the papists have 
saints; they do not make images of them, and that practice 
is absolutely forbidden by their law; but all the same they 
put forward their silly mundane fables about them. They 
say that every earthly king has his regular court of princes 
and lords, each employed according to his merits in the 
administration with great care and supervision, and that 
no one can approach the king unless he has one of them for 
a friend; and they argue from this example that even in 
heaven a man must have a spokesman or advocate with 
God, who will put forward his request or his prayer, and 
obtain an order to grant his petition according to his deserts. 
Thus these mistaken men clearly agree with the papists, 
for they do not understand that God is the Knower of all 
hearts, but obscure the incomprehensible illumination of 
the beams of His almighty compassion, and bestow it on 
poor earthworms and false hypocrites. Through the 
subtlety of the devil these men in their lifetime blind the 
eyes of the poor; and sometimes the deception is continued 
after their death by crafty mendicants or disciples, who, 
by posing as their successors, batten on the innocent poor. 
These men know how to establish their position by means 

1 Readers, whether Hindu, Moslem, or Roman Catholic, will 
make the necessary allowances for the vigorous language in which 
Pelsaert's Protestant zeal is occasionally manifested in this section 
and the next. 



of sorcery, or perhaps it is that the popular imagination is 
led to accept their pretensions by the strange and ridiculous 
fables they tell of what has already been achieved by their 

For example, there is Pir Ghazi Muinuddin, who is buried 
in a very costly tomb at Ajmer, whither pilgrims journey 
annually from distant places, and most of those who are 
childless travel there barefooted. King Akbar also, who 
had no children in his youth, made a vow to this saint, 
and went there from Agra on foot with his wife Miryam 
Makani, travelling four kos a day. 1 As a memorial, he 
erected a minar, or milestone, at every kos of the whole road, 
with a well beside it for the convenience of travellers, and 
also mahals or women's houses, 8 kos apart. It so happened 
that his wife became pregnant, giving birth to the present 
king, Jahangir or Shah Salim, and consequently the people 
now believe confidently that the Pir was the giver of this 
child, and are all the more confirmed in their error. There 
are immense numbers of such pirs, each with his own skill 
and power of granting requests. In Makanpur, 70 kos 
from Agra on the eastern road, is buried Pir Shah Madar, 
who is said to possess many gifts and wield many powers. 1 
The pilgrimage to his tomb is in February, when immense 
numbers of people from all quarters gather near Sikandra, 
beyond Agra, and march thither like an army, accompanied 
by even greater numbers of mendicants than the devotees, 
who there take various parties under their standards for 

There are many such festivals, but to write of them all 
would be interminable, and I think it will be better to 
describe only the chief feast-days. I should not, however, 
willingly pass over some of their holy men whom I have 
seen in their lifetime, particularly Sultan Khusru, the 
eldest son of the present King. He was murdered in the 

1 This incident is of course familiar: the details given by Pelsaert 
should be read as reproducing the story as it was told in his time, 
not as a first-hand account of facts which occurred half a century 

* The cult of Shah Madar survives at Makanpur (vide Imperial 
GatetUer, XVII. 43). 


fort at Burhanpur, in February, 1621,* at the instance of 
his younger brother Sultan Khurram, because he was 
thought to be next in succession to the throne; the murder 
was committed by a slave named Raza, who during the 
night strangled him with a lungi, or cloth, so as to raise the 
less suspicion of violence, and suggest a natural death. 
His body was brought to Agra, and taken thence to Alla- 
habad, to be buried beside his mother. In the excitement 
or mourning which followed his death, for he was much 
beloved by the common people, although he was held a 
prisoner by his brother under the King's orders, some 
mendicants presumed to make a representation of a grave 
at a spot where the, bier or corpse had rested for a night on 
the journey, and announced to the common people that 
their God had in their sleep ordered them to do so, because 
Khusru was an innocent martyr; and consequently that 
everyone should come to make offerings at similar shrines 
every Thursday, and their prayers would certainly be 
granted, because Khusru occupied as great a position in 
heaven as he had held on earth. This devilish folly made 
such headway in various towns, such as Burhanpur, Sironj, 
Agra, and Allahabad, that both Hindus and Moslems in 
vast numbers went in procession every Thursday with 
flags, pipes, and drums to his worship; he was accepted 
as a true pir, or saint; and they carried matters so far 
that they were foolish enough never to take an oath except 
by 'the head of the Sultan,' which was regarded as more 
binding than if they had sworn by God Himself. His 
father the King prohibited this practice, saying that Khusru 
was in his lifetime a sinful, nay, a rebellious son, and if 
he was really murdered by his brother, the guilt attached 
to the murderer, but did not operate to absolve Khusru, 
or to justify his being regarded as a saint. On this, Kasim 
Khan, the Governor of Agra, destroyed and obliterated the 
shrine, which had been built at great cost; the attendants 

1 Really 1622. The complicity of Sultan Khurram (Shahjahan) 
in the murder of Khusru has been questioned, but the evidence 
brought together by Mr. Beni Madho (Life of Jahangir, p. 336), 
shows at any rate that the charge was generally believed in India 
at the time. 


or receivers of offerings were driven away; and everything 
that was found was confiscated for the King. 

Three classes of the people are affected in consequence. 
First there are the mendicants, who on the day of worship 
used to gather on the road in thousands and swarm like 
flies, so that no one could walk a yard without molestation, 
and, calling on no name but that of 'the head of the Sultan/ 
earned enough in that day to provide them with food for 
the week. Next there are the confectioners, who used to 
line the whole road in great numbers with stalls of sweet- 
stuffs, and sold great quantities, together with the hawkers 
of toys (like pedlars at our fairs), for no one would return 
without having bought something for the children. The 
roads and open places were full, too, of jugglers, dancers, 
players, and such rabble, the noise was deafening, and 
the crowd made it even more impossible to see, or find 
room to move. Lastly, and the greatest sufferers of all, 
comes the class of secluded ladies. Under pretext of a 
pilgrimage, they used to come without reproach to see, 
and perhaps even speak to their lovers. Assignations 
were made in the gardens, which are numerous in the neigh- 
bourhood, and there passion was given the food for which 
it hungered, and for which, in the case of many, no oppor- 
tunity could be found on any other day. On such occasions 
new passions were aroused by the sight of a handsome youth, 
who took the lady's fancy, and while she saw him, he might 
not be able to see her. Thus nobody more regrets these 
gardens, or is more grieved, than these pitiable little creatures 
of Agra; for the festival still continues in Burhanpur, 
Sironj and other places on the road. 1 

All their saints have origins of the kind which I have 
described, and they have dabbled largely in magic. The 
Moslems count their Muhammad superior to all the 
prophets who have been stent by God, with the exception 

1 The feature of social life referred to in this paragraph was not 
a novelty. More than two centuries before, Firoz Shah had noticed 
the improprieties resulting from visits to tombs on holy days, and 
he 'commanded that no woman should go out to the tombs under 
pain of exemplary punishment' (Elliot and Dowson, History of 
India, III. 380). 


of Christ; but they hold that on his advent the Christian 
faith was killed or annihilated, just as Judaism was by 
the coming of Christ. The only title they give to Muhammad 
is the Messenger of God. They attribute to him super- 
human or fabulous gifts during his life on earth, for instance 
that a cloud or shadow always rested above his head; 
that his body cast no shadow; that flies never settled on 
it; that a long journey was shortened for him, and the 
road contracted; and that no one ever saw his excrement, 
which the earth opened and absorbed. There are many 
similar absurdities, which I will omit, and come to the 
two great festivals, called Id, which they keep very strictly. 
The dates depend upon the moon; I remember when the 
fast came in August, but this year it began in June. This 
fast is kept very strictly for a whole lunar month; they 
neither eat nor drink throughout the whole day, or until 
the stars appear or have become visible in the evening, 
and in the intolerable heat the prolonged abstinence from 
water is very trying; but food, be it fish or meat, is not 
prohibited at night. They sleep apart from their wives 
for the whole month, and they drink no wine, which, though 
it is described as unclean in their scriptures, they learn to 
drink in large quantities, neglecting the prohibition, and 
explaining it away after our fashion. 

At the end of this month of fasting comes the great Id 
of which I have spoken, and which they keep as devoutly 
as we do Easter. In the morning they go to the great 
mosques named Idgah, which are usually outside the city, 
where the Kazis, who are their lawyers, offer prayers; 
people of all classes gather there, and return home in great 
joy, the great men in full state, the poor in clean white 
clothes. Friends send each other food accompanied by 
good wishes, and everyone is very gay because the heavy 
burden of fasting or abstinence is past, and nobody is bound 
or compelled to fast for longer than he chooses or wishes, 1 
nor is it any shame [not to do so]. 

The other Id comes 70 days later, and during the interval 
few or no marriages are allowed to take place* This feast 

1 This sentence is ambiguous, and may also be read in the sense 
that it was not compulsory to observe the fast. 


commemorates God's mercy to Abraham, when he was 
about to sacrifice his only son Isaac, who was obedient 
to him, relying on his compassion. He prepared to make 
a worthy burnt-offering, even to slay his son; but an angel 
held back the knife, and the sacrifice was remitted, and 
he offered instead a goat which was standing behind a hedge. 
On that day therefore everyone who is able will sacrifice 
a goat in his house, and keep the day as a great festival. 
A month later comes the commemoration of Hasan and 
Husain, two brothers, sons of Ali, who was married to 
Bibi Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. From these 
two, namely Muhammad and Ali, arose after their death a 
schism in the new faith; for Persians, Usbegs, and Tartars 
hold by Ali rather than Muhammad, while Turks, Arabs, 
and Hindustanis, or the whole of this kingdom, hold only 
by Muhammad, and not at all by Ali; and thus there is 
a great distinction, the sects calling each other kafirs or 
infidels, and hating each other as bitterly as the papists 
hate our religion. Those who follow Muhammad are called 
sunnis, and those who follow Ali rawafiz [i.e. shias]. At 
first, the new-found faith was introduced in a deceitfully 
attractive form, and men were given remarkable latitude, 
and a broad ladder by which they could climb to heaven 
without difficulty, thus offering pleasant allurements for 
the innocent. When however they became powerful, and 
found their wings strong enough for flight, they adopted 
forcible methods to spread their creed, and waged war 
against those who did not accept it; and in a battle against 
a heathen king, Raja Bickhanhaar, Hasan and Husain 
were killed. In commemoration of this slaughter they 
make a great noise all night for a period of ten days; the 
iflen keep apart from their wives, and fast by day; the 
women sing lamentations, and make a display of mourning; 
in the chief streets of the city the men make two coffins, 
adorn them as richly as they can, and carry them round in 
the evening with many lights and large crowds attending, 
with great cries of mourning and noise. The chief celebra- 
tion is on the last night, when it seems from the great 
mourning as if God had plagued the whole country as in the 
time of Pharaoh's obstinacy, when all the first-born were 


slain in one day. The outcry lasts till the first quarter of 
the day; the coffins are brought to the river, and if two 
parties meet carrying their biers (it is worst on that day), 
and one will not give place to the other, then, if they are 
evenly matched, they may kill each other as if they were 
enemies at open war, for they run with naked swords 
like madmen. No Hindus can venture into the streets 
before midday, for even if they should escape with their 
life, at the least their arms and legs would be broken to 
pieces. This continues till at last they have thrown them 
[the coffins] into the river; then they bathe, return home 
finely dressed, and each goes to the graves of his deceased 
parents or friends, which have been newly whitewashed 
and decorated for the occasion, bringing food and 
flowers, and, after due mourning, giving the food to 
the poor. They believe that all good deeds or charities 
performed on that day on behalf of the dead, will benefit 
them whether they are in heaven or in hell, a fable which 
resembles the papist doctrine of purgatory; and the festival 
may fairly be compared to All Souls' Day, when they read 
the seven psalms in the churches, or pay a penny to have 
them read, in order that the souls in purgatory may be 
given some respite or relief from the prescribed period, 
or occasionally may even be released and taken to heaven. 


IT has been my wish to make a thorough study of the Hindu 
faith and its origin, in order that I might be able to describe 
it; but the fact that it has no foundation beyond elaborate 
poetic fables, the great number of their gods and their 
marvellous transformations, and the extraordinary variety 
of their beliefs these considerations have deterred me, or 
indeed prevented me from reaching the truth; and if one 
sect only is dealt with, the account will differ totally from 
those given by others, and will be contradicted by writers 
who have probably taken their matter from some different 
school. Among the banians of Gujarat, for example, 
there are innumerable sects, ope of which will not eat or 
drink with another, apart from the class of brahmans, 
who are respected and accounted sacred by all of them. 
In India or Hindustan again, there are just as many [sects 
of] khattris, but they are somewhat bolder, or less strict, 
in their beliefs; they can eat goat's or sheep's flesh, and 
indeed they also drink wine in private; but many, whom 
I pass over, will not eat of anything that has been alive, 
not even green plants, but only rice, wheat, and butter, 
which make up the whole of their diet. It is of common 
occurrence that there are as many opinions as there are 
families, and since the members of a family intermarry, 
its extinction would mean the extinction of the whole creed. 1 
The Hindus are more punctilious and much stricter than 
the Moslems in their ceremonies. No one, man or woman, 
^ will omit to wash the body in the morning, however cold it 
may be. The common people go to a river or running water, 
while the rich bathe at home; and they will not touch 
food till they have washed. They sit down to eat, naked 
and with bare head, inside a well-marked enclosure, which 
no one enters while they are eating; if they are disturbed, 
they will give up that meal. They will not omit to go and 

1 This sentence gives the probable meaning of a very obscure 



bathe in the Ganges once a year; those who can manage it 
will travel 500 or 600 kos for the purpose. They bathe in 
October, and they are convinced that by doing so they 
are purified of all their sins. They bring back a little of 
the water of the Ganges and keep it in their house, which, 
so they think, will protect them from sorcery or witchcraft. 
The water certainly has one remarkable quality, in that it 
never stinks, and no worms appear in it, even if it is kept 
for 100 years, and consequently they regard the river as 
sacred. The bathing-place 1 lies about 40 kos from Agra. 

Some of the brahmans are very ingenious, good astrono- 
mers, familiar with the course of the stars, and usually 
prepared to foretell the weather. They reckon eclipses very 
clearly, and they also do a great deal of fortune-telling. 
There are usually one or two such men with a great reputation 
in the city; indeed the prefcnt King generally kept one at 
Court, whose prophecies, or most of them, proved quite 
accurate. The brahmans have consequently secured a 
great reputation, and they have now acquired such influence 
over the great men, and then over all the Moslems, that they 
will not undertake a journey until they have enquired 
what day or hour is auspicious for the start; and when 
they return from a journey, or come to take up an appoint- 
ment, they will not enter the city until the suitable day or 
hour has been predicted, and then they wait until the exact 
moment has arrived. The result is that many of this 
rabble now frequent the streets, book in hand, to tell men 
their fortune, and, though their predictions have little 
value, they are believed by the poor, for they always get 
excellent measure, and their questions are met with ambi- 
guous replies. 

The Hindus, to whom I have referred, have three ordinary 
sources of livelihood. First there are the leading merchants 
and jewellers, and they are most able and 
business. Next there are the workmen, 
all work is done by Hindus, the Moslems ; 
any crafts but dyeing and weaving, wl 
Hindus in some places, but by Mc| 

1 Presumably Soron on the Ganges, where 
take place in the autumn. 


Thirdly there are the clerks and brokers: all the business of 
the lords' palaces and of the Moslem merchants is done by 
Hindus book-keeping, buying, and selling. They are 
particularly clever brokers, and are consequently generally 
employed as such throughout all these countries, except 
for the sale of horses, oxen, camels, elephants, or any living 
creatures, which they will not handle as the Moslems do. 
Another class of Hindus is named Rajput. These men 
live in the hill-country, and are excellent soldiers, but many 
of them have nevertheless been brought into subjection 
by this King and his father, owing to the fact that the land 
is divided into small portions, and each Raja or King has 
only a small territory, so that continuous hard fighting 
went on among themselves. Each Raja had only a single 
fort or city, which protected the open country belonging 
to him. They are bold and courageous people, determined 
and loyal. The men are short in stature and ugly. Mounted 
or on foot, they have no weapon other than a short spear, 
with shield, sword, and dagger, but they are slow to retreat 
in a fight, and are obstinate in attack, because the quantity 
of opium they eat excites them, and causes them to care 
little for their lives. They eat all kinds of meat except 
beef, and drink wine. In war time the race is much esteemed, 
and is feared by the other classes of soldiers, but during 
peace they get the cold shoulder, because in palaces or 
camps they make less show or display than the Moguls or 

When a Rajput dies, his wives (or rather his wife, for they 
marry only one if there is genuine love) allow themselves 
to be burnt alive, as is the practice among the banians or 
khattris, and in Agra this commonly occurs two or three 
times a week. It is not a very pleasant spectacle, but I 
witnessed it out of curiosity, when a woman who lived 
near our house declared to her friends, immediately on her 
husband's death, that she would be sati, which means that 
she would accompany him where he had gone, 1 making 

1 This bit of popular etymology seems to have prevailed widely 
in India at this period. It appears in several of the quotations in 
Hobson-Jobson (s.v.), and also in some other Dutch narratives of 
the lyth century. 


the announcement with little lamentation, and as if her 
heart was sealed with grief. They imagine or believe that, 
if they have lived well in this world, the soul, directly the 
breath has left the body, flies to another man or child of equal 
or higher rank, and is born again ; but if a man has not lived 
well, the soul passes to a beast bird, worm, fish, evil or good 
animal according to the appointed punishment. This is 
the reason why they will kill no animal, so as not to trouble 
or disturb the soul within, which would have to journey 
to some other animal, for they say: Who knows but the 
soul of my father, mother, sister, or children who may 
have died, may for their sins be in that animal? To return 
however to what we were saying, when a woman has made 
up her mind, it is impossible for her friends or for anyone 
in the world to dissuade her, strive as they may, but if 
she persists, she must be left in peace. So she goes and 
bathes, according to the daily custom, puts on her finest 
clothes, her jewels, and the best ornaments she has, adorning 
herself as if it was her wedding day. The woman I have 
mentioned then went, with music and songs, to the Governor 
to obtain his permission. The Governor urged many sound 
arguments to show that what she proposed to do was a 
sin, and merely the inspiration of the devil to secure her 
voluntary death; and, because she was a handsome young 
woman of about 18 years of age, he pressed her strongly 
to dissuade her if possible from her undertaking, and even 
offered her 500 rupees yearly as long as she should live. 
He could, however, produce no effect, but she answered 
with resolute firmness that her motive was not [the fear of] 
poverty, but love for her husband, and even if she could 
have all the King's treasures in this world, they would be 
of no use to her, for she meant to live with her husband. 
This was her first and last word throughout, she seemed to be 
out of her senses, and she was taking up far too much time ; 
so the Governor, since governors are not allowed by the 
King's orders to refuse these requests, gave his consent. 
Then she hurried off with a light step, as if she might be 
too late, till she reached the place, a little outside the city, 
wherp was a small hut, built of wood, roofed with straw, 
and decorated with flowers. There she took off all her 


jewels and distributed them among her friends, and also j 
clothes, which she disposed of in the same way, 
only an undergarment. Then she took a handful of nee, 
and distributed it to all the bystanders; this being done, 
she embraced her friends and said her last farewells; took 
her baby, which was only a year old, kissed it, and handed 
it to her nearest friends; then ran to the hut where her 
dead husband lay, and kissed and embraced him eagerly. 
Then she [or they] took the fire and applied the brand, 
and the friends piled wood before the door ; everyone shouted 
out Ram! Ram! (the name of their god), the shouts con- 
tinuing till they supposed she was dead. When the burning 
was over, everyone took a little of the ash of the bones, 
whitii they regard as sacred, and preserve. Surely this 
is as great a love as the women of our country bear to their 
husbands, for the deed was done not under compulsion but 
out of sheer love. At the same time there are hundreds, 
or even thousands, who do not do it, and there is no such 
reproach as is asserted by many, who write that those 
who neglect it incur the reproach of their caste. 


IN, arranging a marriage, the bridegroom has no share in 
the choice, still less has the bride, for the selection is made 
by; the parents, or, if they are dead, by other friends. 1 
When a youth is from 15 to 18 years old, his friends seek 
for the daughter of a man within the circle of friendship; 
but this applies to the rich rather than the poor, because as 
a rule soldier marries soldier, merchant marries merchant, 
and so on according to occupation. If they know of no 
suitable match, there are female marriage-brokers, who 
know of all eligible parties; the parents will call these in, 
and ask if there is no rich young lady for their son. The 
brokers understand their business, and instead of one will 
suggest perhaps twenty-five. When the proposals have 
been thoroughly examined in regard to birth and present 
position, the parents choose the one which seems to be 
most suitable. Then the mother, or the nearest friends, 
go with the youth to the friends of the young lady they have 
chosen, even if they have no previous acquaintance, and, 
after compliments, ask if they will give the lady in marriage 
to the youth. After full discussion on both sides, there is 
usually an interval of some days, or, if they get an im- 
mediate assent, the youth, or bridegroom, sends a ring to 
the bride, with his compliments. She sends in return some 
betel, with a handkerchief or something of the kind, though 
the unfortunate bridegroom is not allowed to meet the 
ladies, still less to see if his future bride is white or black, 
straight or crooked, pretty or ugly; he must trust to his 
mother and friends. From this time on begins much merry- 
making in the house, with music and singing, and the con- 
gratulations of friends on both sides. When the bridegroom 

1 Readers who are not familiar with the ceremonies described in 
this section will find it interesting to compare with it the description 
given two centuries later by Mrs. Meer Hassan All (Observations on 
the Mussulmauns of India. Letters XIII., XIV.), The lady was 
behind the scenes, and in a position to explain some things which 
Pelsaert, among the male guests, might overlook or misunderstand. 



goes home with his friends, similar music begins there also, 
and this goes on continuously, night and day, with drums, 
pipes and other noise, provided by both parties, so that 
the whole neighbourhood is drowned in noise. At last the 
wedding-day comes. This is fixed for 15 or 20 days after 
the engagement, in order to give time for preparing the 
feast. Three or four days before it, the bridegroom and 
his parents go to the bride's house, with a great company 
of the whole tribe, and taking with them a large number 
of gondas, or large ornamented wooden dishes, full of con- 
fectionery, sugar, almonds, raisins and other fruits, and 
also a sum of money, 100 or 1000 rupees, according to 
their position. The money goes towards the expenses of 
the bride's relatives, most of which must be paid by the 
bridegroom, who also provides the bride's jewellery. 
The procession comes to the bride's house with much music 
and drumming, and the visitors stay for the evening meal, 
returning home at night. The next evening the friends 
of the bride come with similar noise and pomp, and hundreds 
of lights; they bring to the bridegroom a representation, 
made of cotton, satin, and paper, in the form of ships 
or boats, ornamented with tinsel, and various colours and 
flowers. This is placed on the roof of the house till it falls 
to pieces. Then the women employed for the purpose 
anoint the bridegroom, and rub his hands and feet with 
mehndi (a powder made into a paste), till they are quite 
red ; this is supposed to have been sent by the bride, and 
the occasion is called Mehndi day in consequence. The 
guests remain to sup with the bridegroom, and go home at 
night. The next day is the marriage-day. The bridegroom 
is dressed in red, and so garlanded with flowers that his 
lace cannot be seen, and towards evening all the friends 
and invited guests gather, and accompany the bride- 
groom to the bride's house with the greatest possible display 
of lighted fireworks, drums, trumpets, music, and singers, 
so that everything may pass off without adverse comment. 
The bridegroom goes on horseback, with the male friends 
and a great cavalcade: the women follow in palanquins 
and carts, covered with the finest doth that can be provided. 
The bridegroom goes to the place where the male guests 


are gathered, but he may not speak till the marriage is 
complete, but sits as if he were dumb. The ladies go into 
the female apartments, where there is music, singing, and 
dancing, as there is before the men, where the dancers sing 
and dance as skilfully as they can. It is the custom at all 
weddings and feasts to call in these people for the guests' 
entertainment. There are many classes of dancers 1 , among 
them lolonis, who are descended from courtesans who have 
come from Persia to India, and sing only in Persian; and 
a second class, domnis, who sing in Hindustani, and whose 
songs are considered more beautiful, more amorous, and 
more profound, than those of the Persians, while their 
tunes are superior; they dance, too, to the rhythm of the 
songs with a kind of swaying of the body which is not 
lascivious, but rather modest. Other classes are named 
horckenis and hentsinis, who have various styles of singing 
and dancing, but who are all alike accommodating people. 
[The music] lasts till a quarter of the night has gone, when 
the Kazi's clerk and moslena [? mauland] comes, and he 
makes a prayer, and then joins them in marriage without 
the bride being present. The ceremony consists merely 
in the registration in the Kazi's book, showing that such 
and such a person has acknowledged taking such and such 
a woman as his wife. When this is over, the meal is served, 
and they go to eat, after which there is music, singing, 
and dancing as before, lasting the whole night till the 
morning. Then they pack up the bride's belongings, 
that is to say, whatever she brings to the marriage is dis- 
played and carried away. The bridegroom follows with 
the same pomp as when he arrived in the evening, except 
the lights and fireworks; then his bride, sitting in a palanquin; 
and then follow the lady friends of bride and bridegroom. 8 
In this way he takes his bride home. His house is ready; 
he goes in, and his wife is brought to him, whom he now 

1 Of the classes of dancers mentioned in the text, Lolonis points 
to the Persian loli, public singer. Domnis are recorded in Crooke's 
Tribes and Castes of the N.W. Provinces as a sub-caste under the 
group Tawaif. Horckenis may represent the sub-caste Haraltiya. 
ffentsinis is presumably formed from hansna (to laugh), and may be 
a recognised description, or merely a nickname. 

* This clause gives the probable sense of a very involved passage. 


sees for the first time, and he may congratulate himself 
if She happens to be pretty, or to suit his taste. The 
marriage must be consummated at once, while the ladies 
sit and sing at no great distance; 1 otherwise the bridegroom 
would be deeply disgraced, and the married ladies would 
send him the spinning-wheel. When the marriage has 
been consummated, the mother and an old woman enter, 
and, after their investigation, they begin to scream or sing 
'Mubarak!' or Good Luck! as if a great victory had been 
won. Then the bridegroom goes to his apartments for the 
day, and the bride to hers; and the friends take their leave 
and depart, after each has received the gift of a piece of 
cloth, the men from the bridegroom and the women from 
the bride. 

What I have described is the Hindustani custom, but 
Moguls, and also Hindus, have different ceremonies. The 
Hindus join their children in marriage at the age of only 
four or five years; and if the boy dies, the girl or bride 
cannot marry again, but must die a virgin, unless she 
employs clandestine means. The men on the other hand 
may marry as often as they choose, if their wives die; and 
old men have to marry children, because there are no 
grown-up maidens to be found. 

* The translation of this paragraph is slightly condensed. 


THIS is a sketch of the ordinary course of manners, ad* 
ministration, and customs, so far as appeared to me to be 
possible, but it is not a system of law that I have been 
describing, because in this country there is a great diversity 
of tastes, among both the upper and the lower classes; 
a description cannot be so complete but that some one may 
say that he has on one occasion seen or learned something 
contrary to it; and, consequently, when such chatterers 
talk, my employers will recognise that absolute concordance 
is impossible of attainment. Further, I have deliberately 
passed over in haste certain matters, such as the origin 
of the inhabitants, their nature or disposition, their dress, 
their methods in war, etc.; but since the object of my 
report is merely to furnish information to my honourable 
employers regarding the actual or potential trade of the 
country, I have been constrained by zeal to fulfil my duty, 
to show and make it clear that while in India I have not 
been like the main-mast, which also travels to India, 1 
but rather their servant, who is, and always will be, bound 
to render them such services as etc., etc. I close by wishing 
my employers continual expansion and development of 
their trade, all good fortune, and prosperity to themselves. 


Your most obedient servant, 

1 1 have not come across this phrase elsewhere, but presumably it 
was a jocular way of saying that a man had learned nothing by 



Character of the merchants, 28 

City described, i ff. 

Climate and agriculture, 47 

Dutch business in, 21 

European goods for, 25 

Fort, 3 

Production, 9 

Spice trade, 21 ff. 

Supplies, 48 

Trade, 6 

Agriculture, 47-49 
Ajmer, 70 
Akbar, i, 7, 70 
Allahabad, 6 
Anirai, 52 

Armenian buyers, 16, 18 
Asaf Khan, 50, 51 

Bayana, 13, 17 
Benares, 7 
Borax, 44, 45 
Broach, 42, 43 
Brokers, 78 
Burhanpur, 37, 38, 71 


Gujarat, 42 

Mogul, 29 
Cotton Goods 

Benares, 7 

Bengal, 8 

Deccan, 40 

Gujarat, 40-43 

Jagannath, 8 

Jaunpur, 7 

Lakhawar, 7 

Oudh, 7 

Patna, 7 

Sind, 32 
Cow-killing, 49 
Customs duties, 42 

Drugs, 44 ff . 

Hnglish merchants 

at Agra, 18, 25, 28, 46 

at Burhanpur, 38 

at Patna, 7 

at Surat, 39, 4 X 
Eunuchs, 65 ff . 

Fathpur Sikri, 9 
Festivals and Fasts 
Cult of Khusru, 70 ff . 

W, 73 

Muharram, 74 

Ramzan, 73 

the poor, 60 

the nobles, 68 

in Agra, 48 

in Kashmir, 35 
Fuel, 48, 61, 130, 165 

the nobles, 67 

the poor, 61 

Ganges, bathing in, 77 


Chief cities described, 38-43 
Trade described, 19, 20 

Hindu religion, 76 

the nobles, 66 

the poor, 61 


Adulteration, 12 

Cultivation, 10 

Injuries, 13 

Lahore market, 30, 78 

Manufacture, 10 

Quality, n 

Trade, 15-18 
Informers, 63 

in Agra, 28 

in Gujarat, 42 
Itimad-ud Daula, tomb of, 5 

Jagannath, 8 
Jagirs, 54 

His administration, 6, 50 ff. 

Habits, 52, 53 

Residence at Lahore, 30 

In Kashmir, 30 ff . 

Taste for novelties, 25 

Taste for sport, 51 
Jaunpur, 7 



Kashmir, 33 ff. 
Khusru (Sultan), 70, 71 
Koil, Indigo of, 15 

Lahore, 30 
Lakhawar, 7 
Law and justice, 57 
Luxury, 64 ff . 

Marriage customs 

Hindu, 84 

Moslem, 81 ff. 
Masulipatam, 22 
Mewat, Indigo of, 15 
Mogul Administration 

General description, 50 fi. 

in Agra, 6, 28 

in Burhanpur, 38 

Insecurity, 58, 59 

Law and justice, 57, 79 

Meat-supply and slaughter of 
cows, 49 

Oppression of peasants, 47 

Official intelligence, 59 

Prevalence of rebels, 58 

Promotion and punishment, 56, 

Rule of inheritance, 54 
Moslem Religion, 69 fl. 
Muinuddin (Saint), 70 
Multan, 31 


Avarice, 54 

Extravagance, 54, 64 

Inheritance, 55 

Instability, 56, 64 

Life described, 64 ff. 

Her character, 50 

Her coinage, 21 

In Kashmir, 34 

Relations with Jahangir, 50, 53 

Ormuz, 39-41 
Ondh, 7 

Pamris, 36 , 
Parwiz (Sultan); 38 
Patna, 7 
Pelsaert (F) 

His position in Agra, x 

Life, ix.-xvi. 

Motives in writing, 85 
Portuguese, 8, 19, 32 
Pourop, 42 
Poverty, 47, 48, 54, 56, 60 ff. 

Rajputs, 78 

Saffron, 35 

Sal ammoniac, 46 

Saltpetre, 46 

Sandalwood, 25, 

Servants, 61 ff. 

Shahjahan (Sultan Khurram), 37 

Shah Madar (Saint), 70 

Shopkeepers, 63 

Sikandra, 4, 5 

Sind, 31, 32 

Soothsayers, 77 

Spice Trade 

At Agra, 21 ff. 

At Masulipatam, 22 

In Kashmir, 36 

Spikenard, 45 
Standard of life, 60 ff . 
Surat, 38 ff. 
Swally, 38 

Transit duties, 43 

Wages, 60, 62 

Weights and Measures, 29. 42 
Widow-burning, 78 ff . 
Workmen, 60, 77